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.