The town of Royston in Hertfordshire is to become Britain’s first ‘ring of steel’ town, with hidden Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras installed on every single road in and out of the town by next month. Town bosses rolled out the usual platitudes to explain the introduction of this nefarious system:
“…make Royston the safest town in Hertfordshire”
“They give the police hard evidence as they track known villains.”
“It will make us the safest town in Hertfordshire and you won’t be able to drive in or out of the town without being clocked.”
“We will be the only town in Britain that will have ANPR on every approach to the town.”
The fact that Geraint Burnell, the town centre manager, considers it a benefit that no one will be able to enter or leave the town without being ‘clocked’ is a shocking example of the mindset of those without an understanding of the privacy concerns of the general populace. Chris Farrier, a spokesman for the civil liberties group No CCTV, expressed serious concerns about the dangers of systems like this:
“It is a hugely worrying development. It has been developed with no public scrutiny and government legislation. This is the biggest surveillance network that the British public have never heard of. The people of Royston had better get informed because their one is being described as a ‘ring of steel.”
There is no particular reason for installing this system, or particular set of crimes which the police wish to solve by using it. It will be a gigantic waste of tax payers’ money during a time when councils should be searching high and low for wasteful expenditure to be cut.
The public have not been consulted about this cruel abuse of privacy to monitor and store the movements of everyone who visits the town of Royston on a centralised database for 5 years. The inevitable conclusion is a nationwide network of ANPR cameras, ensuring that all movement of citizens can be monitored. Considering the multitude of civil liberties seen in the past decade, surely councils should realise this is not what the public want.