19 August 2013

ANPR and theatrics

The federal Coalition's Crime policy statement calls for rollout of Austomated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) at major air and shipping hubs, presumably followed by extension to other locations.
It is important that police and criminal intelligence agencies are told when vehicles associated with suspected or known criminals and gangs approach our ports or airports. 
This knowledge can help them monitor suspicious activity or deploy additional resources if necessary. 
Automatic numberplate recognition systems (ANPR) are one such way to effectively monitor vehicle approaches to airports and ports. If elected, the Coalition will commission an urgent scoping study for the roll out of ANPR to be operated by CrimTrac, for the approaches to airsides and waterfronts. This will enable law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies to identify people and organisations whose attendance at these locations may be unauthorised or suspicious.
Given that there's nothing like function creep we will no doubt see the cameras used for other purposes.

CrimTrac is probably dusting off its expensive ANPR consultancy report already. A perspective is provided by 'ANPR: Code and Rhetorics of Compliance' by Christopher Parsons, Joseph Savirimuthu, Rob Wipond and Kevin McArthur in (2012) 3(3) European Journal of Law and Technology.

The authors comment that
 ANPR systems are gradually entering service in Canada's western province of British Columbia and are prolifically deployed in the UK. In this paper, we compare and analyze some of the politics and practices underscoring the technology in these jurisdictions. Drawing from existing and emerging research we identify key actors and examine how authorities marginalize access to information about the systems' operation. Such marginalization is accompanied by the rhetoric of privacy and security that are used to justify novel mass surveillance practices. Authorities justify the public's lack of access to information about ANPR practices and technical characteristics as a key to securing environments and making citizens 'safe'. After analyzing incongruences between authorities' conceptions of privacy and security, we articulate a means of resisting intrusive surveillance practices by reshaping agendas surrounding ANPR.
In 'war on organised crime' mode the Coalition indicates that
2. Fighting Organised Crime 
Organised crime and outlaw bikie gangs are a massive cost to our community in many different ways. 
Tackling organised crime requires significant commitment due to the sophisticated and extensive nature of these criminals’ operations. 
a. Local anti-gang squads 
The Coalition will establish Local Anti-Gang Squads to fight organised crime at the local level with the support and backing of national tools, resources and intelligence. 
Labor’s recent announcement of an anti-gangs taskforce is an inefficient way to deal with the national problem of organised crime. While organised crime does not recognise State and Territory borders, it manifests itself in different ways across Australia and involves a multiplicity of groups with diverse criminal interests. 
We will redirect $64 million to the Coalition’s Local Anti-Gang Squads initiative that will build a series of smaller, better targeted and regionally based anti-gang taskforces. They will work in partnership and consultation with State and Territory law enforcement agencies, while reporting to the Commonwealth’s central criminal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. 
Australia already has national law enforcement and criminal intelligence bodies deeply invested in fighting organised crime. However, dealing with organised crime is not necessarily amenable to a ‘one size fits all’ model. 
The simple facts are that a local approach to dealing with organised crime will be more effective if it can tap into national support, resources and intelligence. 
Commonwealth resources and money should be committed in a way that best supports the entirety of Australian law enforcement and respects the priorities and work of State and Territory agencies. 
The Coalition will fund these taskforces so they have access to the full suite of federal intelligence and operational resources available from the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, Customs, CrimTrac, the ATO and Centrelink. They will also collect and act upon intelligence from local law enforcement. 
The taskforces will share the benefit of new unexplained wealth legislation in order to disrupt criminal organisations and seize their assets. They will set ambitious targets to seize assets and disrupt criminal organisations.
In CCTV territory the statement indicates that
The Coalition’s Plan for Safer Streets will boost the efforts of local communities to address crime and anti-social behaviour by helping them to install CCTV and better lighting, funded from a pool of $50 million to help deliver effective solutions to local crime problems. 
The money will come from proceeds of crime so that the crimes of yesterday will help to prevent tomorrow’s crimes. 
Recent studies indicate that CCTV footage can be extremely helpful in solving crime: in the United Kingdom, a study found that almost 70 per cent of murders are solved using images captured by CCTV. Another study found that in London six crimes a day are solved using CCTV and that detectives consider the technology as valuable as DNA in solving crimes. 
The Coalition will establish a voluntary national register of CCTV locations accessible through law enforcement agencies’ computer mapping services to enable them quickly to identify likely sources of evidence. Those businesses who wish to register their locations will be able to display notices that their CCTV is registered with police, which may have additional deterrent effects. 
The Coalition’s Plan for Safer Streets will help protect communities from crime.
The statement also indicates that
The Coalition will make sure that people with a relevant criminal history can never receive a security clearance to work at port and airport entry points.
Under Labor, people with a relevant criminal history are able to get a security clearance to work on ports and in airports where cargo comes into the country. On some occasions, these people have been found acting corruptly to help criminals and make smuggling operations easier. The Coalition will ensure that the criteria for issuing people with security clearance to work on Australia’s wharves are upgraded and tightened. Tough laws will apply that will make sure applicants with a relevant criminal history are never given a Maritime Security Identification Card or an Australian Security Identification Card.
The Coalition strongly believes that stopping criminals from smuggling guns and drugs at our ports and airports is a vital step toward suppressing organised and violent crime.