Memorandum submitted by the Department
1.1 The Department for Transport holds data
on drivers, vehicles and vehicle movements.
1.2 The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's
(DVLA) has a register containing more than 42 million driver licence
records. The drivers' database has personal detailssuch
as name, address, date of birth and driving convictionsfor
the majority of the adult population in GB. This information is
required to check that a person has an entitlement to drive. They
also have a register with active records for some 35.5 million
vehicles. This holds vehicle keeper information for the UK which
is used to collect and enforce vehicle excise duty (VED), and
to ensure that vehicles on or off the road are traceable to an
individual or organisation.
1.3 Both DVLA and the Vehicle and Operator
Services Agency (VOSA) use ANPR Cameras to support their business
objectives. DVLA has 15 camera vehicles to identify and take action
against those who evade VED. VOSA currently have 8 camera vehicles
which are used to identify, stop and investigate commercial vehicles
suspected of being used illegally.
1.4 The Highways Agency (HA) operates cameras
on England's Strategic Road Network in support of traffic management,
eg managing congestion. The cameras fall into two functional categories:
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and Closed Circuit Television
(CCTV). There are 1,133 ANPR cameras and 1,300 CCTV cameras deployed
though precise numbers can vary, for instance because of disruption
during roadworks. All data from ANPR cameras operated by the HA
is anonymised and the standard feed from CCTV cameras does not
produce a picture which is strong enough to identify individuals.
1.4 The Department for Transport takes issues
surrounding privacy very seriously. Sharing data to deliver public
policy objectives needs to be balanced with protecting privacy
and maintaining public confidence that their personal data is
adequately protected against misuse.
1.5 It is departmental policy that data
sharing should only be undertaken pursuant to specific statutory
authorisation, or in other circumstances where a reasonable legal
justification has been established (for example implied or ancillary
rights pursuant to other statutory functions in combination with
residual common law powers). All data sharing must also comply
with the European Convention on Human Rights, the Data Protection
Act 1998 and the common law duty of confidence.
1.6 A review of data release from the vehicle
register to the police and local authorities, and to anyone else
that can show "reasonable cause" for requiring it, was
undertaken in 2006. This resulted in 14 new measures being implemented
to safeguard and protect data from misuse.
2.1 The main DfT databases are those held
by DVLA which maintains a register of some 42 million driver licence
records and a separate register containing active records of 35.5
million vehicles. The information on drivers and vehicles is vital
for road safety, and is an essential part of effective enforcement
2.2 DfT and its Agencies share data with
a number of public and private sector organisations, with the
necessary controls to safeguard the use of the data and to prevent
mis-use. These include:
other Government Departments; and
2.3 Data may be shared for various reasons,
including improved customer service and more effective road traffic
enforcement. For example:
the online vehicle licensing system
is only possible by linking insurance data, MOT data and DVLA
since 2004, people applying for a
new or replacement driving licence no longer need to send in a
photograph if they have recently applied for a passport. With
the consent of the individual, the passport photo and signature
can be used for the driving licence; and
DVLA data is shared with the police
for road traffic purposes, criminal law enforcement and to help
identify individuals and the families of those involved in road
traffic accidents. Drivers' data is also shared on a case-by-case
basis for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of serious
2.4 DVLA is working with North Wales Police
to pilot a new scheme which provides direct access to the drivers'
register through handheld devices for road traffic purposes. Police
are able to confirm the information provided by the driver is
consistent with their record on the drivers' register. This initiative
will also benefit motorists who do not carry their driving licence
as their entitlement to drive can be checked at the roadside,
rather than producing their driving licence at their nearest police
2.5 It also shares vehicle data with other
public sector enforcement agencies, for instance local authorities
and Transport for London (TfL) for enforcement of traffic, parking,
and London congestion charge offences.
2.6 Data may also be released to other Government
Departments. An example of this sharing is with Her Majesty's
Revenue and Customs, which is entitled to information under the
Taxes Management Act 1970.
2.7 In the private sector the Department
shares data with parking enforcement companies and others that
can show "reasonable cause" to receive the data, and
with car rental companies where the individual gives their consent
to the data being shared.
3.1 The Department and its Agencies utilise
ANPR technology to enforce the law against those who evade VED
and non-compliant hauliers and bus and coach operators. The great
majority of its ANPR and CCTV cameras are used to manage traffic
on the strategic road network of motorways and principal trunk
roads in England.
3.2 DfT supports the use of police ANPR
cameras in their drive to deny criminals the use of the road.
In order to help the police target their on-road enforcement against
non-compliant vehicles and their keepers, DVLA provides "hotlists"
of those vehicles with no VED and also those with no currently
registered keeper. Helping the police to target law breakers in
this way ensures that the vast majority of law abiding motorists
are not troubled.
3.3 DfT is also responsible for policy on
safety cameras, though the cameras are owned and operated by Safety
Camera Partnerships which are made up of local authorities, police
and HM Courts Service in England and Wales.
3.4 DVLA has 15 ANPR camera vehicles in
use throughout the UK. These are used either static at the roadside
or whilst patrolling on roads to detect unlicensed vehicles. The
system is Type Approved by the Home Office and provides photographic
evidence of unlicensed vehicles being used on the road. The images
are downloaded and used by DVLA to prosecute offenders. The information
is used only by DVLA, and if the vehicle is licensed, the information
is dropped after 24 hours with no record kept. The on-board computer
is updated every 14 days with a new database of unlicensed vehicles.
This database is also shared with those Local Authorities and
police forces with devolved powers to clamp and impound unlicensed
vehicles on behalf of the Secretary of State. It is also shared
with VOSA for use with their ANPR vehicles.
3.5 VOSA currently has 8 ANPR camera vehicles
in GB. This is due to increase to 21 vehicles shortly. They are
used to identify, stop and investigate non-compliant commercial
vehicles and those suspected of operating illegally. Their ANPR
systems utilise their own intelligence databases and the database
of unlicensed vehicles from DVLA.
3.6 VOSA also operate ANPR systems at a
number of locations on the motorway network which are linked to
weigh-in-motion sensors embedded in the carriageway. The sensors
identify overweight commercial vehicles and those suspected of
being loaded incorrectly. The ANPR image identifies the suspect
vehicle and VOSA officers stop and investigate the vehicle at
a safe place on the motorway.
Highways Agency ANPR and CCTV Cameras
3.7 The HA uses ANPR and CCTV cameras to
monitor traffic flows and collect anonymised data for traffic
management purposes. Currently there are 1,133 ANPR cameras and
1,300 CCTV cameras deployed on the strategic road network, though
precise numbers can vary, for instance because of disruption during
3.8 As well as monitoring traffic flow,
information from the cameras is used to respond to incidents on
the network to ensure that travellers have safe, reliable and
3.9 The HA operates two principal ANPR systemsthe
National Traffic Control Centre (currently 1,033 cameras) and
the "Birmingham Box" network of 100 cameras in total
including 42 which are operated by the HA. The NTCC cameras are
owned and operated by Traffic Information Services Ltd/Serco on
behalf of HA through a PFI contract. These will be handed over
to HA during 2011. The "Birmingham Box" is split into
a network of 42 cameras installed for the M42 Active Traffic Management
Project, and of 58 cameras (HA "TAME" project), which
have been transferred to the Central Motorway Police Group in
the Midlands. The HA do not collect information from these and
are no longer responsible for their operation.
3.10 The HA operates 1,300 CCTV cameras,
typically at key strategic locations, at regular intervals along
the motorway, and at a few locations on the trunk road network,
providing real time traffic information to the NTCC and seven
Regional Control Centres (RCCs).
3.11 These cameras enable the HA and emergency
services to be aware of road conditions and help them deal with
real-time traffic flow and incident information quickly and efficiently.
As well as management of major incidents and congestion, CCTV
cameras also provide a rapid overview of network conditions providing
up-to-the-minute information for traffic management services and
3.12 RCCs currently only record CCTV imagery
for a variety of pre-determined purposes that could include network
asset protection; operational procedures & protocols; incidents
occurring on the network; and Health and Safety compliance.
3.13 Although DfT is responsible for policy
on safety cameras, they are owned and operated by Safety Camera
Partnerships in England and Wales. These are made up of local
authorities, police and HM Courts Service. From 1 April 2007 local
partnerships have greater freedom and flexibility to deploy safety
cameras where they are felt to be the appropriate solution to
particular road safety problems. The police use their access to
DVLA vehicles data to identify the keeper of a vehicle found to
be speeding at safety camera sites.
4.1 The Department takes the safeguarding
of personal data extremely seriously. Clarity about the legal
authority under which data may be shared, including under the
Data Protection Act, is critical. The Department also consults
closely with the Information Commissioners' Office.
4.2 Where there is regular sharing of data
in bulk with other Government Departments and Agencies, for example
by DVLA, a Memorandum of Understanding is put in place detailing
the principles and responsibilities surrounding the data release.
An example of such an arrangement is that with TfL to allow that
body to enforce the London congestion charge.
4.3 Other ad-hoc requests for data from
other areas of Government are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
These are considered very carefully to ensure the release is lawful
and in accordance with DfT policy.
4.4 Following a review of the release of
vehicles register information 14 new measures, announced by the
Minister for Transport in July 2006, have been implemented. These
are designed to protect vehicle keepers from misuse of their information
and provide clear and robust complaint procedures where misuse
is alleged, while allowing those who do have reasonable cause
to get the data they need. Individuals who apply must provide
detailed information and evidence to justify their enquiry.
4.5 DfT and its Agencies also have internal
controls in place to safeguard the use of data, to ensure that
audit trails exist to identify users of data, and to guard against
mis-use of data. Breaches of data security are treated very seriously,
and where applicable are reported to the Information Commissioner's
Office and the police for investigation and action.