Motorists hit with £150k in CCTV fines every day

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Drivers are being fined a whopping £150,000 every day after being caught on council CCTV cameras, a new report has revealed.
Campaign group Big Brother Watch said that a total of £310million in parking and traffic fines had been issued to motorists over the past five years, with many originating from fixed and vehicle-mounted cameras.

Such cameras are often justified by local authorities as a crime prevention tool, but many vehicle owners have found themselves receiving fines after being caught out by them.

Big Brother Watch claims that uptake of CCTV camera cars is on the rise, and named Camden council in north London as the worst offender for issuing tickets in this manner.

In total, there are at least 36 local authorities using static CCTV cameras to capture traffic offences, while at least 58 operate camera cars for the same reason. This represents an increase of 87 per cent since 2009.

MP Nick de Bois said in a Daily Mail report: "CCTV should only ever be used in exceptional circumstances, and therefore I agree with the Government that local authority use of CCTV for parking enforcement should be banned."

However, the reliance of traffic cameras may fall as new codes of practice for CCTV use come into play.

The Government's own Surveillance Camera Code of Practice states that the use of CCTV technology to capture traffic offences should be 'sparing', Big Brother Watch said.

Concerns have also been raised over the legality of some tickets issued via CCTV, as they may not follow the proper legal process under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for directed surveillance.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: "The Government rightly wants to rein 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."

However, Big Brother Watch has been accused of "peddling myths" around the use of CCTV cameras.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board, said: "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."
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