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More than two million motorists a day could wronging face fines for Ulez or speeding because of simple ways of gaming Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras or errors with the system. 

ANPR camera are widely used to enforce road traffic regulations and are used by local councils or authorities to monitor vehicles entering or leaving particular spots. 

The cameras read the number plate of a vehicle and run the information past the DVLA‘s database in Swansea. If a suspected offence has been committed, the footage is then used to prosecute the vehicle’s registered owner. 

It is estimated that such cameras gather data on 75m to 80m cars a day, but that could easily reach 100 million a day by the end of the year, with the rapid deployment of more cameras.  

Professor Fraser Sampson, the outgoing Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, has written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper to warn him that as many as one in 15 motorists may be using anti-ANPR systems

ANPR cameras such as this one enforcing London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ulez zone, are reading the number plates of between 75m and 80m cars a day. That is expected to rise to 100m by the end of the year as further cameras are installed

But, Professor Fraser Sampson, the outgoing  Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, has written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper to warn him that as many as one in 15 motorists may be using anti-ANPR system. 

He said with the roll out of Ulez and the imposition of further 20mph zones enforced by cameras relying on ANPR information, the use of such measures could increase dramatically, undermining public confidence in the traffic enforcement regime. 

Currently, according to Prof Sampson, some ‘15,400 roads or traffic lanes’ were covered by the ANPR network. 

Speaking to the Telegraph, Prof Sampson claimed it was ‘staggeringly simple’ for criminals or miscreant motorists to deceive the cameras by either ‘cloning’ someone else’s number plate, or by using ‘stealth tape’ which is available from online retailers. 

A cloned number plate could see an innocent motorist facing prosecution for speeding, dodging toll payments, illegally using bus lanes or ignoring Ulez or other Low Emission Zone rules. 

Prof Sampson said with a three per cent error rate, this could see ‘significant risks’ of penalty notices being sent out to the wrong people.  

According to the letter to government, Prof Sampson said: ‘Taken together, these risks to ANPR threaten not only the efficacy of local policing and traffic enforcement initiatives but the integrity of a national system which has been so successful in supporting policing and law enforcement for decades.

‘With drivers able to monitor their own vehicles outside their homes using live feed images between their phone and doorbell from anywhere on the planet, expecting the police and local authorities to rely on the number plate for critical functions such as traffic management and national security is no longer a quaint anachronism; it is increasingly looking like a strategic risk in itself.’

One motorist in Guildford, Surrey tried to use a leaf attached to their number plate using double-sided sticky tape. The driver is facing prosecution for using the leaf and  further action for speeding

He also said there is the potential of local authorities, private car park owners or police forces, who routinely use ANPR data,  facing prosecution themselves for breaching data protection laws. 

‘Such processing of inaccurate data by public authorities and those operating in the private sector using DVLA records brings significant risks of penalty notices being wrongly issued to innocent motorists as well as potentially breaching data protection laws.’

Prof Sampson is standing down at the end of the month from his role ahead of it’s abolition by the government. 

He urged the government to increase the level of security associated with the number plate system as it is possible to buy a new plate from as little as £10 – using someone else’s data. 

He said criminals have long been using cloned number plates to avoid detection, but with the cost of living crisis and the expansion of measures such as Ulez and speed cameras, more motorists may consider trying to ‘game’ the system. 

He added: ‘I would therefore urge you to give consideration to modernising the way in which vehicle registration, roads surveillance and ANPR systems are regulated generally and to addressing the enduring risks to the ANPR system in particular.’

Prof Sampson worked for 19 years as a police officer before completing a PhD in digital accountability in law enforcement. 

MailOnline has approached the Department for Transport for a comment. 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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