For years now, people have been banging on about how great ANPR is, because it keeps uninsured fuckers off the road (no it fucking does not!) and achieves everything short of Gaia love. And all these years I've been wittering on about how the police could use them for nefarious purposes, like keeping track of us all?
Police ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reader) units have been used before at Climate Camp actions to alert police to the arrival of ‘known’ activists. Police at Kingsnorth used ANPR to monitor and intercept activist cars as they arrived. It is possible that a similar strategy will be used in Nottingham.
The police have for some years been collecting the vehicle registration numbers of vehicles used to get to protests, gatherings and even meetings. If your registration number is on this list, it could be picked up by the ANPR system.
How does ANPR work?
Motorways have permanent ANPR cameras, but mobile units can also be used on minor roads. Mobile ANPR units can be covert and hard to spot, but they are usually transit sized vans marked with camera symbols.
The cameras automatically read the number plates of cars passing by. The on-board computer then checks the numbers against a number of different databases. This is usually car registration, insurance, MOT etc, but the ANPR units can also check if your car is on a list of ‘protest’ vehicles.
If the ANPR flags up a ‘hit’ the police can be instructed either to simply note the fact you have arrived (perhaps flagging you up for more targeted surveillance), or to intercept the car. If you are stopped the police have powers to search the car similar to those they would use on a pedestrian (see below).
So, we have police databases of "domestic extremists" and we have nationwide coverage of the roads, so they know where you are.
But really, it's quite cool because the police have safeguards so your data can't be mined without proper authorisation or anything. This information is not subject to misuse. You could never wind up in these databases if you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or anything.
If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.