Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Beast of Basildon

The Beast
By Guy Basnett,
News of the World


MOTORISTS are under attack from a CCTV car dubbed "The BEAST" - because it stalks the streets snaring unsuspecting drivers by the thousand.
When the traffic offences predator is on the loose it can snare up to 54 motorists a DAY who've parked their cars illegally.

The two-door Smart car might only be a titchy beast, but drivers don't stand a chance escaping when it's on the prowl in Basildon, Essex.

Its lethal weapon is a camera perched on a 15ft telescopic mast which can spot cars parked in the wrong place up to 110 metres away, and even log them just by driving past - picking up the vehicle details, exact location and type of rule break.

In Essex the local council has nicknamed the car the "Beast of Basildon" because of its success rate, a document leaked to the News of the World reveals.
The £50,000 vehicle is fitted with GPS and automatic number plate recognition so it can capture car details and issue £60 fines if motorists park in loading bays, clearways, bus stops, taxi ranks and in restricted areas near schools and pedestrian crossings.

It can also film in high quality to enable prosecutions. But drivers don't know they've been booked till the ticket arrives in the post.
CCTV cars are being increasingly used by councils to patrol Britain's streets, replacing traffic wardens as the new hi-tech scourge of drivers.
And unlike wardens they don't get abuse for handing out tickets. The leaked document revealed 1,672 penalty charge notices were issued in the 70 days since The Beast was launched - making an average of 24 a day. The highest doled out in a single day was 54.
The papers also reveal Basildon Council admits motorists have grumbled about "The Beast", but officials are surprised they haven't made more fuss. The document said: "We've had a few complaints but not as many as we were expecting."
Our source said: "Councils talk about these cars targeting known parking trouble spots and how well they've been received by the community.
"But behind closed doors they're bragging about how many people they can catch with these
nasty little cars.
"They can't help boasting that it can be used to catch people committing loads of other offences. And bring in more and more cash in hefty fines."

Around 50 councils are thought to be using CCTV cars now, including Westminster Council in London - which hopes to increase its fleet to four - Eastbourne, Medway Council in Kent and Manchester City Council.

Police forces have also joined the trend. Greater Manchester Police uses a CCTV Smart car to target drivers committing motoring offences, such as texting or using handheld mobile phones. The vehicles can also act as mobile CCTV tackling anti-social behaviour.

But parking campaigner Neil Herron fumed: "These vehicles are just another tool to fine as many people as possible and bring in revenue.
"It's unbelievable that a council will call the car 'The Beast' and boast how many people have been fined."


nodigitsever said...

how would this "Smart" (NOT!)car stand up to being driven over by my Mitsubishi Pajero (Shogun) weighing over two Tons I wonder?

I would LOVE to find out

Anonymous said...

I have discovered that, in the interests of deterrence, NSL will provide a schedule of where and when CCTV cars will be deployed. You need to find out who the local CCTV Room Manager is.

Good news for Westminster motorists as I have found out who they need to ask! In the absence of a particular service to provide such information, you can obtain it by emailing: At my suggestion, WCC are considering posting the data on their web site. This will depend on demand, I suspect.

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog