DALE CARRUTHERS | QMI AGENCY
LONDON, Ont. — A controversial Ontario Provincial Police surveillance program is being rolled out across the province.
First introduced in London, Cornwall and the Toronto area in 2011, the Automated Licence Plate Recognition program outfitted police cars with state-of-the art cameras capable of scanning 7,000 licence plates an hour.
The provincial police force announced Wednesday it’s expanding its fleet of ALPR-equipped cars from four to 31.
The cars are equipped with two cameras mounted on 45-degree angles on the front of the roof and one on the back.
Scanned plates are checked against a database of 4.6 million plates considered to be in “poor standing” to see if the plates are expired, stolen or suspended.
If a scanned plate matches one flagged in the archives, the ALPR sends an audible signal to the officer’s in-car computer. The system displays the plate number and an image of the vehicle, allowing the officer to take the appropriate action.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was concerned about the program when it launched.
But the association is now satisfied the provincial police force is only archiving photos of plates accused of an infraction and destroying the rest.
“That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be vigilant,” CCLA director of public safety Abby Deshman said. “This is technology that is deployed in other jurisdictions to act as massive surveillance. We know when the
RCMP introduced this technology there was mission creep.
“I think we need to carefully monitor what our police are doing, carefully watch to ensure that the privacy protections remain in place, that the scope of the program remains what it was today.”
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