Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2007
Q360 Mr Winnick: Dr Hickey, there
are a lot of cameras all around the place operated via the Highways
Agency. In the very useful paper that you circulated you give
at paragraph 1.4 details. Apparently there are 1,133 automated
number plate recognition cameras and 1,300 CCTV cameras. How far
are motorists in the position to be able to check on the website
who is actually responsible for those cameras?
Dr Hickey: I think those cameras
are the responsibility of the Highways Agency, but of course the
Police have many other cameras and there are many other peoplelocal
authorities and otherswho have cameras. I think those ones
you referred to are all Highways Agency cameras.
Q361 Mr Winnick: How far would motorists
be in a position to contact the Agency because presumably in some
circumstances they may wish to do so?
Dr Hickey: They can certainly
contact the Agency. I do not know offhand whether on the website
it would tell you where each camera was. I suspect not, partly
because of course some of them are moved and are mobile.
Q362 Mr Winnick: I will come to criminality,
which is the purpose of these cameras, they are not there for
fun and no doubt they serve a positive reason. However, would
it not be useful for the ordinary citizen to be able to find out
from the website precisely what is what?
Dr Hickey: Yes, I accept that
Q363 Mr Winnick: Is it intended to
have more sophisticated technology in time? It is not the end,
is it, these cameras which I have mentioned a number of which
are in use? Are they going to increase? Are there going to be
other different kinds of cameras?
Dr Hickey: The need for cameras
certainly has been going up. For example, if we go further down
the route of active traffic management on the network, the sort
of system with traffic controls that we now see on the M42 around
Birmingham where you have got hard shoulder running for example
at peak hours and tighter speed controls and a need to watch extremely
carefully if incidents were to happen, then clearly that sort
of operational system relies quite heavily on these cameras. If
we go further down the route of that kind of regime on the trunk
roads, then certainly the need for active management, including
cameras, is likely to increase.
Q364 Mr Winnick: Just tell us, Mr
Hickey, how long has this been happening with the cameras? How
many years back? Presumably there was a time, including in the
post-War period when people would drive without cameras and investigations
and so on and so forth?
Dr Hickey: I can tell you from
personal recollection that in the 1960s cameras were introduced
in Durham City for the control of traffic coming up from the bridges
to the market-place because I was a boy at the time and it was
a very big deal and we used to go and stand behind the policeman's
box and look over his shoulder at these cameras, it was a major
novelty, and Durham prided itself on being one of the first towns
to have that sort of camera. That was the 1960s, I think. On the
national network I am afraid I do not know offhand when they started.
Q365 Mr Winnick: We are talking about
Dr Hickey: Cameras have been around
certainly to my personal knowledge
Q366 Mr Winnick: And all the indications
are that it is escalating, is it not?
Dr Hickey: On the roads but also
more widely in local authority communities and so on cameras have
certainly increased substantially.
Q367 Mr Winnick: I said a moment
agoand I do not think there is any disagreementthat
they are not there for fun; they are to deal with those who break
the law and outright criminality, but what I want to ask you is,
how do you assess the potential benefits for example of these
number plate recognition cameras which I have mentioned compared
with the risk of mistakes or criminal misusethat is going
furtherof transport databases?
Dr Hickey: Could I first just
correct you on the Highways Agency cameras. The Highways Agency
cameras are not used for criminality in quite the sense I think
you are implying. They are actually used for traffic flow control.
That is quite important. For example, they do not record the full
number plate of the individual vehicle, which of course for criminal-type
purposes you need to have. The Highways Agency ANPR cameras only
record three digits, which is enough to say at the next point
down the road those same three digits can be identified and from
that you can calculate what the flow of traffic is. That is not
enough to tell you it was my car or someone else's car.
Q368 Mr Winnick: So it would not
help the Police?
Dr Hickey: It would not help the
Q369 Mr Winnick: What would help
the Police in carrying out their investigations?
Dr Hickey: For the Police's purposes
you need the full number plate and of course the Police do have
ANPR cameras that show the full number plate. They are both ANPR
cameras but they are used in different ways and for some different
purposes, and we must be clear.
Q370 Mr Winnick: So the motoristand
I am not saying that should not be so, we recognise all the criminality
that could be involvedon all these roads is constantly
Dr Hickey: That is right. As far
as criminality and so on is concerned, the ANPR cameras, which
are particularly relevant to that are the Police's own ANPR cameras
and they have a lot of those, as you know. In addition, from the
Department's point of view, as you will have seen from the memorandum,
both DVLA and VOSA have a small number of ANPR cameras, nothing
like the Police scale. Those are used for identifying vehicles
which are not taxed or, in the case of VOSA, have other HGV concerns
about them, so those do identify the individual vehicle.
Q371 Mr Winnick: That is a very useful
answer. In terms of our inquiry we would be right presumably to
say that the use of cameras and such technology is likely to increase
rather than decrease?
Dr Hickey: I think that is plausible.
Q372 Mr Winnick: More than plausible?
Dr Hickey: Yes.
Chairman: I shall bring Mr Davies in
now for a quick supplementary.
Q373 David Davies: Just to turn around
one of Mr Winnick's questions, the whole point of ANPR readers
is that they can track a licence plate registered to a criminal
and find out where on the motorway for example that person is
exiting so the Police can follow that up. Would it be useful to
advertise to the whole world where ANPR cameras are located or
would it not defeat the whole purpose, which is to be able to
track people who should not be on the road?
Dr Hickey: You are quite right
that for Police cameras which do that sort of thing certainly
it would be quite counter-productive to tell people but for traffic
monitoring purposes there is not that same sensitivity, so it
is a more open question.
Q374 Chairman: Could I ask you to
comment on the new proposals that passengers on domestic flights
between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland are now to be subject
to identity checks; is that coming from your Department or the
Dr Hickey: I confess that is not
a subject I am familiar with. I can come back to you and tell
you which department is behind that.
Q375 Chairman: I think it is a Home
Office Statutory Instrument but obviously the Department for Transport
would need to have been consulted.
Dr Hickey: That is probably right,
Q376 Chairman: Would you drop us
a note on that?
Dr Hickey: I will drop you a note.
Chairman: Thank you so much. Patrick
Mercer now has the first question to Mr Burton for Transport for
Q377 Patrick Mercer: Has Transport
for London itself commissioned any research into the effectiveness
of CCTV as a deterrent to crime on the transport network?
Mr Burton: We have not undertaken
any specific research on that. We have done a fair amount of research
on passengers' views of CCTV.
Q378 Patrick Mercer: Who are very
reassured by it, are they not?
Mr Burton: Indeed, all our research,
as you say, shows that passengers see two primary ways of making
them feel safe on the network: visible, uniformed staff; and CCTV
Q379 Patrick Mercer: Okay, but you
have not actually taken any soundings yourself as such?
Mr Burton: We have not got any
empirical research on the actual results. We have results-based
analysis done in specific areas, for example the on-bus CCTV systems
that we use which are primarily there for crime and disorder reduction,
we have had some very positive results around that where we have
identified over 2,000 individuals and convicted 2,000 individuals
who have been damaging and vandalising the network. In certain
areas we think we have got good results but because a lot of the
systems are recently installed we have not actually undertaken
any detailed research of the overall systems.
1 Note by witness: Highways Agency ANPR cameras
are used for traffic management purposes and do not record the
full number plate of the vehicle. However, this is not achieved
by recording only three digits of the plate. The actual process
is that, at the point of capture, the registration number is encrypted
into a permanent non-reversible string of text. The outcome though
is the same, ie vehicles passing the ANPR camera sites cannot
be accurately identified or cross-referenced against other databases.
But it is by the encryption mechanism rather than by dropping
characters from the registration number. Back