Local authorities cashing in with CCTV fines

Councils are turning to CCTV cameras and spy cars to raise £312m in revenue, that’s according to Traffic Spies, a report published by civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch.

Using a series of freedom of information requests, the group has discovered that many councils are continuing to use CCTV to hand out fines, despite the government’s Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, which highlights the need to use CCTV for traffic offences “sparingly”.

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Yet despite this, the number of CCTV cars in operation has increased by 87% since 2009. At least 36 local authorities are using static CCTV to capture traffic offences, with 59 councils using CCTV cars.

In the report’s foreword, Nick de Bois, MP for Enfield North, said that “CCTV should only ever be used in exceptional circumstances”, going on to suggest that “local authority use of CCTV for parking enforcement should be banned”.

The vast majority of income raised through CCTV (90%) is from the London Boroughs, with over £285.4m generated over the past five years in the Capital alone. The rest of the UK accounted for £26.4m.

In fact, Camden Borough accounted for more than the rest of the UK combined, with £36.3m raised from fixed penalty notices, £34.6m of which was attributable to static CCTV cameras.

Big Brother Watch is campaigning for a ban on the use of CCTV cameras and CCTV cars for traffic enforcement, arguing that “serious problems should be tackled by the police and traffic wardens, not unfocussed and revenue-led surveillance”.

The group goes on to claim that “the absence of proper transparency around the use of CCTV cameras in general, and the scale of fixed penalty notice use, is a fundamental problem and one that underlines trust and confidence in legitimate, targeted surveillance”.

Speaking to the Independent, Tony Porter, the Government’s new surveillance camera commissioner, said:

“I would query the level and extent to which local authorities parking centre managers are au fait with all the principles and have processes to comply with them.

“I believe people will challenge the use of systems and we will get a tailing off in some areas of the use of cameras.”

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