England

Devon and Cornwall Police in camera sites battle

ANPR camera
Image caption Police say showing where the cameras are will allow criminals to avoid them

Devon and Cornwall Police are fighting a bid to reveal the sites for cameras which record cars' numbers plates.

The locations were requested under the Freedom of Information Act by Steven Mathieson, news editor at Guardian Government Computing.

The force refused, claiming the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) map would hinder crime fighting.

The Information Commissioner agreed but Mr Mathieson then appealed to the Information Rights Tribunal (IRT).

On 11 April the IRT found in his favour, ordering the information be disclosed within 35 days.

Its ruling said: "The tribunal considers that there was, overall, a weak case made by the additional party (Devon and Cornwall Police) as to why it thought that disclosure of the information sought would be likely to prejudice policing."

'Seriously reduce impact'

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed they were seeking leave to challenge the ruling.

A spokesman said: "The force believes that revealing the exact location of ANPR sites will seriously reduce their impact as a crime fighting tool in identifying suspects and offenders.

"There is no doubt that since the advent of ANPR the police's ability to proactively target criminals on the road network has increased dramatically.

"Showing a criminal the exact location of a camera will make those cameras easier to avoid and thus make capturing criminals more difficult.

"While the force accepts the need for transparency and the public's right to information whenever possible, revealing the location of covert policing resources goes far and beyond this."

The force has 45 cameras, one of the lowest number per head of population in England and Wales, according to a parliamentary written answer in January.

The 4,000-strong ANPR network logs more than 10 million vehicles every day.

The cameras capture the front of cars and photographs can include images of the driver and any passengers.

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