Victoria’s police board has backed away from a suggestion by Mayor Dean Fortin that the police department suspend the use of automated licence plate cameras until privacy concerns are addressed.
Instead, the board voted Tuesday to ask the department to work with the RCMP on possible fixes to the controversial camera system and report back in three months.
In the meantime, the cameras continue to roll.
“They’ll come back in three months and our hope and our expectation is, working with the RCMP, they can address those issues,” Fortin said.
B.C.’s privacy commissioner raised red flags about the cameras in a report last month, amid fears they could be used as a mass-surveillance system.
Commissioner Elizabeth Denham called on VicPD and other police departments to change how the camera system captures and retains information on people who are not suspects and have done nothing wrong.
The current practice of capturing that “non-hit” data and transferring it to the RCMP for eventual deletion, breaks B.C.’s privacy law, Denham said.
Saanich police turned off their cameras last month, saying it wanted to show good faith as it investigated how to make changes.
But Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham has not implemented Denham’s recommendations, instead calling parts of her report inaccurate and praising the cameras as valuable public safety tools.
VicPD has also said it leases the camera system from the RCMP, and that it is up to the Mounties to make changes.
Fortin went into Tuesday’s meeting publicly saying he wanted the department to suspend use of the cameras. The idea appeared to be dropped after an in-camera discussion of the Victoria police board.
Fortin, the board chairman, offered little explanation on what happened.
“All I can say is Victoria felt they’re going to work with the RCMP to come into compliance,” he said.
The nine-person police board is made up of civilians who oversee the department’s policies and budget.
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