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Calls for clarity on speed camera images

Date

Christopher Knaus

Police have accessed images from the new average speed cameras on Hindmarsh Drive for general criminal surveillance.

Police have accessed images from the new average speed cameras on Hindmarsh Drive for general criminal surveillance. Photo: Melissa Adams MLA

The opposition has called on the government to be honest with Canberrans over its use of images taken by point-to-point speed cameras.

Police have accessed images from the new average speed cameras on Hindmarsh Drive for general criminal surveillance six times since they were activated in February.

Their surveillance has mostly related to serious crime, according to ACT Policing, including aggravated robbery and grievous bodily harm, aggravated burglary and home invasion, and dangerous driving. Police are required to hand over a significant amount of detail on any car suspected to have links to criminal activity, including the time, place, date, location and vehicle details, but don't need a warrant or court order.

Opposition Leader Zed Seselja on Wednesday urged the government to clarify exactly how the data is being used, not just by police, but right across government.

The government maintains it was clear and transparent about alternative uses of the speed cameras through the public debate of the legislation last year, something Mr Seselja disputes.

''They haven't, and obviously if they want to use them as de facto CCTV cameras, then they should say that,'' Mr Seselja said. ''If it is just about traffic management, then they should say that, if it's somewhere in between then they need to be very clear on what are the circumstances where these images can be used,'' he said.

But Police Minister Simon Corbell said the use of the data was ''extensively canvassed'' during the debate, with similar issues raise by the Liberals and the Greens at the time.

Mr Corbell said that images could be disclosed to police or agencies across the ACT government for the enforcement of road transport law, if they were ''reasonably necessary'' for enforcement of criminal law or a law imposing a fine, or if the disclosure was required by any other law or court order. The images of cars can only be used for the purpose they were originally disclosed for, and cannot be retained for longer than required.

The Greens raised significant concerns last year over the push for police to have access to the data, releasing a statement in August saying they would not ''approve any aspects of the legislation which go beyond legitimate uses and unjustifiably intrude on Canberrans' privacy and human rights''.

But Greens MP Shane Rattenbury said significant changes to the laws, including safeguards against improper uses of data, addressed their concerns.

The government is now only allowed to hold images for 14 days before they are deleted, unless they are linked with a speeding offence.

''I would say we now have the best and strongest protocols on this of anywhere in the country,'' Mr Rattenbury said. ''We safeguarded against concerns such as expanded use of the data, data aggregation, and even concerns about the use of facial recognition technology.

''Other jurisdictions lack the safeguards we have here, such as strict limits on retaining data.''

The opposition is opposed to speed cameras more generally. Mr Seselja said there were still questions on the ''science'' of the technology.

''We certainly don't see them as a good replacement for police presence on our roads, and I think we need to be careful that they're not just about revenue raising,'' he said.

''In the end, we want people not speeding on our roads, the question is, are these the most effective way of doing that, or is a strong police presence a better way.''

Both the government and the Greens support the technology's use for road safety.

7 comments

  • Brilliant. An Opposition asking the hard questions after reading the comments section in the Canberra Times of yesterday. Hint - do it more!

    The last sentence of the article is a screamer! As long as the Greens support something then all is good.

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 7:49AM
    • Let the Police use any public infrastructure to investigate/apprehend ANYONE suspected of committing crime in our community!

      PS. I am not and have never been a police officer, lawyer or involved in any sort of law enforcement! Just a local citizen.

      Commenter
      Hammer
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 9:46AM
      • I couldn't agree more! Police should use ANY available source for tracking down ANY crime - regardless if it's traffic related or not. And it has nothing to do with privacy and human rights. In fact the "human rights" of the crooks are often better assured than these of the victims and ordinary citizens. I say: if you decide to commit a crime against society you willingly decide to cancel all of your society rights. If you act against the society you put yourself outside of it. Simple. And you should be hunted down with ANY means available. And the politicians should STOP using this debate to score political points, especially if they are against it. If you put yourself on the side of criminals, you not very different from them. Political correctness has been always a bad thing and now becomes ridiculous.

        Commenter
        Blackanga
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        November 22, 2012, 12:44PM
      • Yeh! They should have all of our phone and internet records too! And the keys to our houses! And access to our mail! Anyone who objects is clearly siding with CRIMINALS and should be HUNTED DOWN! The crims have all the rights these days and decent citizens have none, that's why our gaols are chockers with innocent people and ... oh, wait a minute ....

        Commenter
        Mad Uncle Bruno
        Date and time
        November 22, 2012, 5:41PM
    • Everyone knows the authorities don't want to give drivers access to photos with a hint of clarity what do you think would overturn fines in court? Beyond resonable doubt. Police would lose millions in revenue and the camera system would falter.

      Commenter
      Pickled Herring
      Location
      Frankston
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 10:15AM
      • It amazes me that with all the accademics here in Canberra nobody remembers that when they went to switch on the Point-To-Point on Hindmarsh Drive, there was a story ( I think here in the CTin Jan 2012) that stated the laws were being changed to allow Police to use the images from the cameras. Nobody took any notice then.
        I dont remember all the facts, but I dont remember good old Zed having a whinge then. Just to remind him and everyone else Labour was voted in for another term get over it.
        If you don't do anything wrong or have anything to hide what is the issue. I bet if they could spot your stolen car and help you recover it you wouldn't be complaining.
        I think it is Funny that everybody whinges about the Cops but who is the first person they call when in trouble. (No I am Not nor have I ever been a Police Officer.)

        Commenter
        Coops73
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        November 22, 2012, 12:53PM
        • In all the years I drove trucks up and down to Canberra from Sydney or Melbourne, I've never ONCE seen a car with Canberra plates pulled up - not once.

          Even the ones that fly past at 30+k's over the limit.. but th cops always seem to get everyone else for 5k's over.

          Commenter
          Rubbish
          Date and time
          November 22, 2012, 8:45PM
          Comments are now closed

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