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Local authorities profiting from CCTV

By raccars Published

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Already cash strapped British motorists are unlikely to be impressed by the news that councils are earning hundreds of millions of pounds from CCTV cameras. The fixed and mobile cameras countrywide are used to administer traffic and parking fines.

A report compiled thanks to data released after a Freedom of Information request, has identified £312 million raised by councils from fixed penalty notices in the period from March 2008-March 2013. Of the local authorities using CCTV to monitor traffic infringements, 36 of them do so through static CCTV and 58 councils use mobile CCTV.

Since 2009, the use of CCTV by local authorities has increased by 87%, but government guidelines stipulate that the use of CCTV to identify traffic contraventions should be sparing. The concern now is that the system is being abused to generate revenue, which goes against constitutional principle.

The highest earners from CCTV were the London boroughs, issuing 90% of the total volume of fines, or about £285 million. Of these boroughs, Camden was at the top of the list, followed by Ealing, then Lambeth, Westminster and Harrow.

There is further concern that some of the penalties may have been issued illegally, through a failure to follow proper legal procedure, as directed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 relating to surveillance processes.

Regulatory bodies are urging the government to investigate the situation to discover whether councils are following fair practice in their use of CCTV surveillance, especially relating to control room traffic wardens purposely trying to spot infringements. Councils currently are under no obligation to release statistics describing how the cameras are used.

However, local councils have been quick to dispute the allegations, claiming that a number of groups support the use of CCTV to maintain road safety. Schools, pedestrian and disability charities and councils all caution that the disabled and school children in particular benefit from parking enforcement through the use of CCTV.

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