Privacy campaigners, Big Brother Watch, have revealed that councils have been using fixed and mobile CCTV cameras to impose parking and traffic fines. The figures showed that at least 6.6m traffic law contraventions were captured by the cameras, leading to £312m worth of fixed penalty notice fines being imposed between March 2008 and March 2013 and that the number of CCTV cars in operation had soared by 87% since 2009, despite a new code of practice saying CCTV should be used only sparingly for traffic offences.Big Brother Watch have also suggested that by having traffic wardens sitting in CCTV control rooms to look for motorists to ticket does potentially breach laws designed to enforce safeguards on covert surveillance operations.The figures were based on FoI responses from 431 local authorities and they showed that at least 70 local authorities have used static CCTV cameras or cars to capture traffic offences. They include 58 local authorities using a total of 105 CCTV camera cars.Brandon Lewis, a local government minister, welcomed the findings. He said Big Brother Watch had provided clear evidence that CCTV was being used “to raise money in industrial volumes for town halls, breaking the constitutional principle that fines should not be used as a source of revenue”.
However, local councils are disputing the claims that they are enforcing parking laws simply to raise revenue and that the intent of having these additional cameras is purely to aid with road safety and that banning the camera cars would put public safety at risk. Peter Box, of the Local Government Association, said: “They account for just 2% of total council parking income so banning them will fail to drastically reduce the number of fines issued to drivers parking illegally. Instead, it will make it more difficult for councils to properly tackle illegal parking around schools and stop reckless motorists parking on pavements or blocking bus lanes.”
The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has said the government is now considering an outright ban on the use of CCTV cars.The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with road traffic law Solicitors in Dorchester and across the country.