Councils slammed for 'cashing in' with CCTV spy cars

Wirral Globe: Wirral Council's spy car. Wirral Council's spy car.

CIVIL liberties campaigners have slammed town hall bosses for using CCTV cameras to raise hundreds of millions of pounds through parking and traffic fines and claim such devices should be banned.

Figures released to Big Brother Watch under Freedom of Information laws have revealed that local authorities have, using static CCTV and CCTV spy cars, issued £312 million worth of Fixed Penalty Notices for traffic contraventions.

Wirral Council is one of at least 58 local authorities using a CCTV car to capture traffic offences.

The car caught a total of 7,513 cars parked illegally between March 2008 and March 2013, resulting in a total income of £239,951 through fixed penalty notices.

There are at least 36 local authorities using static CCTV cameras to capture traffic offences, although Wirral is not one of them.

A spokesman for Wirral Council told the Globe: “Parking enforcement plays an important part in road safety, and particularly for school children and the elderly.

“The CCTV car is primarily used to tackle dangerous or disruptive parking, for instance outside schools. The highly visible enforcement activity should act as a deterrent to motorists who park dangerously.”

The spokesman added that any surplus is used to fund local traffic or highway improvements.

A Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, published by the Government, highlights the need to use CCTV for traffic offences “sparingly”, the campaigners said, but the number of local authorities using CCTV cars has increased by 87% since 2009.

Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: "The Government rightly wants to reign in this unjustified surveillance, so councils are turning to desperate arguments about public safety to justify their cameras, despite having absolutely no evidence to back up their claims.

“The use of CCTV and spy cars for parking enforcement should be banned.

"The fact that no councils publish proper statistics about how these cameras are used highlights that many know that their CCTV operation is about raising money, not about public safety.

"The Government should urgently investigate whether or not the use of cameras to snoop on motorists breaches surveillance laws, particularly where a traffic warden sits in a control room looking for motorists to ticket."

Brandon Lewis, Minister for Local Government said using CCTV to make money is “breaking the constitutional principle that fines should not be used as a source of revenue”.

He said: "Unreasonable parking charges and fines push up hard-working people's cost of living.

"If parking is too expensive or difficult, shoppers will drive to out of town supermarkets or just shop online, undermining the vitality of town centres and leading to 'ghost town' high streets.

"That's why the Government intends to clampdown on this clear abuse and misuse of parking CCTV.

“The public want to see CCTV being used to catch criminals not to persecute shoppers and hard-working people."

Councillor Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, said it was “frustratingly familiar” to hear Big Brother Watch again “peddling the myth” that councils are enforcing parking regulations just to raise money.

He said: “It is wholly inaccurate and misleading for them to claim councils are alone in warning about the dangers of banning the use of CCTV for parking enforcement.

"Road safety campaigners, schools, disability and pedestrian charities and councils have all come together to warn the Government that banning CCTV parking enforcement will put school children and disabled pedestrians at risk and worsen road safety."

Comments (4)

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12:11pm Tue 15 Apr 14

Wirralrob says...

I'm all for the much-hated evil spy car, targeting those who park on pavements and in inconsiderate places. I've never had a ticket once, as unlike lazy drivers, I park where it's allowed and walk the rest of the way.

Walked to school all my life, and it was not just a few short steps. Childhood obesity is now well and truly out of control due to dependency on our 4-wheeled bottom-enlargers.

My only objection to UK council's parking policy is their involvement in town centre / retail parking, which has damaged local business for years. Free and adequate parking at shops and CBDs should be mandatory for all local authorities to prevent urban decay and the growth of out-of-town monstrosities.
I'm all for the much-hated evil spy car, targeting those who park on pavements and in inconsiderate places. I've never had a ticket once, as unlike lazy drivers, I park where it's allowed and walk the rest of the way. Walked to school all my life, and it was not just a few short steps. Childhood obesity is now well and truly out of control due to dependency on our 4-wheeled bottom-enlargers. My only objection to UK council's parking policy is their involvement in town centre / retail parking, which has damaged local business for years. Free and adequate parking at shops and CBDs should be mandatory for all local authorities to prevent urban decay and the growth of out-of-town monstrosities. Wirralrob
  • Score: 12

3:44pm Tue 15 Apr 14

MUFFY123 says...

I totally agree with you, too many people think they can speed and park were they like and to hell with people with prams ect trying to get past them, I think if you don't break the law then you wont get fined and if you do and get fined then it's your own fault, so I say keep this car and if it rises money for the council, they can use it for other things like the upkeep of the roads, they need to get money from somewhere, so why not law breaker's ,
I totally agree with you, too many people think they can speed and park were they like and to hell with people with prams ect trying to get past them, I think if you don't break the law then you wont get fined and if you do and get fined then it's your own fault, so I say keep this car and if it rises money for the council, they can use it for other things like the upkeep of the roads, they need to get money from somewhere, so why not law breaker's , MUFFY123
  • Score: 0

10:01pm Tue 15 Apr 14

PaulCa says...

http://wirralinittog
ether.wordpress.com/
2014/02/03/wirralfai
l-council-highway-ro
bbery-12000-in-fines
-from-one-bus-stop/

Only last week the spy car was back at the profitable Seaview Road revenue collection point. Forget the school zigzags, they're homed in on the easy money, where people pull up then move on immediately. ..

...but by then it's too late.
http://wirralinittog ether.wordpress.com/ 2014/02/03/wirralfai l-council-highway-ro bbery-12000-in-fines -from-one-bus-stop/ Only last week the spy car was back at the profitable Seaview Road revenue collection point. Forget the school zigzags, they're homed in on the easy money, where people pull up then move on immediately. .. ...but by then it's too late. PaulCa
  • Score: 3

3:31pm Wed 16 Apr 14

Llamedos 1 says...

A Council spokes person states "“The CCTV car is primarily used to tackle dangerous or disruptive parking, for instance outside schools. The highly visible enforcement activity should act as a deterrent to motorists who park dangerously.”
Bull, yes they do patrol zig zag crossings and schools but equally this obnoxious bit of gear can be seen in retail shopping areas issuing PCNs` to the elderly who are withdrawing from ATM`s....not causing any obstruction but admittedly on yellow lines. Wirralrob is perfectly correct when he states these idiots in the clown hall are killing off town and village centre shopping. Even so I re-itterate, do not pay any PCN without first consulting experts on www.pepipoo.com
A Council spokes person states "“The CCTV car is primarily used to tackle dangerous or disruptive parking, for instance outside schools. The highly visible enforcement activity should act as a deterrent to motorists who park dangerously.” Bull, yes they do patrol zig zag crossings and schools but equally this obnoxious bit of gear can be seen in retail shopping areas issuing PCNs` to the elderly who are withdrawing from ATM`s....not causing any obstruction but admittedly on yellow lines. Wirralrob is perfectly correct when he states these idiots in the clown hall are killing off town and village centre shopping. Even so I re-itterate, do not pay any PCN without first consulting experts on www.pepipoo.com Llamedos 1
  • Score: 2

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