By Ian Dunt
The national police database holds records of 7.6 billion occasions in which the locations of motor vehicles cars were automatically logged, according to a freedom of information request.
The request, made by blogger HMP Britain to the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), reveals the extent of information kept by police about motorists' journeys.
NPIA operates the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC), which is responsible for storing CCTV information. Specially designed cameras log specific details whenever cars drive past them, including date, location, an image of the car and its numberplate.
The request revealed that 7.6 billion 'reads' had been stored, routinely, for two years.
The revelation casts doubts on police arguments that the technique is only used in areas where an offence has been committed.
"There is nothing wrong, necessarily, with an automated system looking out for specific wanted vehicles in a way a human officer can't manage," said Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID.
"But routine recording of where you've been and who you were with was used to intimidate dissidents in a police-state. It is the activity of stalkers, industrialised by database."
Some of the cameras allegedly keep photographs of the driver and passenger of each passing car, activists said, although these are not retained centrally at the NADC.