Police are able to hold vehicle licence plate data for up to two years, the Government has confirmed.
In response to a Parliamentary question last week, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said data collected through Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technologies could be retained for up to two years for "justified policing needs".
Goggins said that official guidance on the matter sates that data can be held for "a period of two years in a 'live, searchable system'," although after 90 days all data is transferred to a controlled-access database.
"This period of retention is to facilitate the searching of that data on a case-by-case basis, should a crime committed during the deployment come to light during that two-year period," Goggins said.
However, after the initial 90-day period, Goggins said data would be "partitioned" for the rest of its retention period. "In the period of 91 days to two years, the data will only be accessed for a justified policing need."
In "exceptional circumstances", Goggins said there could be grounds to justify retention of ANPR data beyond the standard two years. "Should this occur, a record of the grounds should be retained," he added.
ANPR has been introduced to tackle vehicle theft and to cut the number of vehicles on the road without proper insurance.
According to figures released last September, ANPR logged about 32 million "reads", or records, in the 18 months covered by Laser One and Two, the two pilots of the new system.
However, there are concerns over inaccuracies when the data is linked to DVLA records.
According to police figures quoted by Goggins in Parliament last July, ANPR data held by the DVLA has only a 40 per cent accuracy rate.
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