A report by RNZ has revealed that the New Zealand Police is beefing up its surveillance strategy by tapping into cameras they don’t own around the country that store car number plate data.
The police have spent years developing a platform made up of almost 5000 CCTV cameras owned by private businesses that can be accessed by 4000 officers via a smartphone app. That means number plate data can be accessed at the touch of a button.
New rules surrounding the police’s automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system were also released yesterday which means number plate information (NPI) data can now be stored for a lot longer than previously stated.
Nearly ten years ago, the information could only be stored for a period of 48 hours whereas now, that period can extend up to a maximum of 12 months.
The purpose of this is so that the information can be used as a better crime-fighting tool. For example cameras set up by retailers can be used to spot shoplifters in car parks or by police to track and stop stolen vehicles.
If number plates are used to identify an individual, the information cannot be kept for a long time and can only be used for a pre-defined purpose according to the Privacy Act.
However, in the event that privacy is breached, the liability lies with the companies who operate the cameras and not the police.
With the influx of ram raids in places like Auckland, it begs the question of how worthy the privacy risk is compared to the effectiveness of the plate cameras at preventing/deterring crime.