Licence-plate camera use to continue by Victoria police

VicPD keeps shooting while privacy concerns are ironed out

The Victoria Police Department will continue to operate its controversial automated licence plate recognition program while it reviews how to comply with recommendations from B.C.’s privacy commissioner.

That differs from their counterparts in Saanich, who chose to suspend the program until privacy concerns are resolved.

Automated licence plate recognition (ALPR) uses cruiser-mounted cameras to scan passing vehicles and check them against police databases, generating “hit” data.

It allows police to identify stolen vehicles and prohibited drivers, but the system also flags registered owners involved in court action, parolees and even people associated to others with criminal records.

In her Nov. 15 report, B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found VicPD is violating the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by transferring “non-hit” data to the RCMP, who administer the program, even though that information is deleted within 30 minutes of receipt.

Denham recommended that VicPD find a way of immediately deleting non-hit data from its servers, and that it restrict the use of the program to include only traffic-related and warrant information.

Those recommendations were addressed for the first time at a Victoria police board meeting Tuesday.

“The goal is to have the program come into compliance, whether it’s the camera, whether it’s the software, how the information is transmitted,” Mayor Dean Fortin said Wednesday.

“Those are all technical issues that our police department will be working (on) with the RCMP to (bring the system) into compliance,” Fortin said. VicPD will report back to the board in three months on progress made implementing the recommendations.

The decision to continue to collect data sits in contrast to the Saanich police, who were operating the cameras, but  suspended their use after the release of Denham’s report.

“We don’t run the program, we are a user of the (RCMP’s) service,” said Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen. “Any changes in policy or procedures or even any technical changes will flow from the RCMP.”

VicPD Chief Const. Jamie Graham has said he “respectfully disagrees” with the report, but until now it was unclear whether VicPD intended to comply with the recommendations.

The B.C. privacy commissioner has the authority to enforce compliance if public bodies refuse to make changes.

“Typically what happens after an investigation report is that staff from our office will liaise with the public body to facilitate compliance,” said Cara McGregor, spokeswoman at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. “We have extended that offer to the VicPD.”

The RCMP has indicated it is considering retaining greater amounts of ALPR data in the future. An RCMP spokesperson could not be reached by the News’ deadline.

Fortin said he is hopeful VicPD and the RCMP will comply with the recommendations.

– with files from Kyle Slavin

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Organizers seek input for long-awaited Oaklands community garden

Oswald Park Community Garden Design Workshop coming up on Jan. 19

Six months to Francophone Games, 600 volunteers needed

Online applications open on Jan. 14

Tech consortium invests $25 million into four University of Victoria research projects

Investments come with goal of developing, implement technologies created by Canadians

Mass-timber project in Esquimalt switches from condos to rentals

Corvette Landing will now offer rental units in the area

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read