Royston, a small market town of 15,000 people in Herts, England, is being completely encircled with license-plate cameras that will record the comings and goings of everyone who passes in or out of the town, and store them for up to five years. There's not really much crime in Royston. But the automatic number plate recognition manager for the region says that he will catch lots of criminals and terrorists because they might forget that this one town is totally surveilled and drive through it on their way to and from crimes and atrocities in other towns.
Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "It is such an arbitrary and intrusive method. To do this in what is essentially a sleepy market town is ridiculous.
"Logging the movements of tens of thousands of innocent people living in the area is grossly disproportionate to the crime fighting abilities of the system and an abhorrent invasion of people's privacy."
Inspector Andy Piper, Hertfordshire Police's ANPR manager, said: "On first sight, the ANPR coverage of such a low crime town as Royston may seem an unusual choice, but ANPR works both as a deterrent and a detection tool.
"When we look at the bigger picture in terms of Hertfordshire, as well as nationally, the position of the cameras makes a lot of sense strategically to target those criminals travelling into the county on the main roads in that area – not to mention counter-terrorism."
(Image: These days there's no escaping from the #SS – even in our beauty spots :o( #anpr, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from zombie's photostream)