Tuesday, July 27, 2010

‘Spy’ car brings in fines of £40,000

How long before stealthy CCTV Smart Cars go the way of the Cowboy Clampers?

The Bolton News

08 July 2010
More than 1,600 motorists have paid out almost £40,000 in fines in just five months after being caught parking illegally by a council Smart car kitted out with CCTV.
The Bolton council "spy" vehicle was introduced to catch parents who cause parking problems outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times.

It is also aimed at those who park in keep-clear zones outside schools, on single and double-yellow lines and on loading restrictions.

But six times as many motorists have been fined for parking offences away from schools after being caught on the spy car's 3.6 metre extendable cameras.

According to Big Brother Watch, an off-shoot of the pressure group The Taxpayers' Alliance, the vehicle is being used to make money for the council. A new report by the group claims that between November 2 - when the car hit the road - and March 31 the car gathered evidence to issue tickets to 1,631 motorists.

That brought in £39,495 in fines - just £13,405 less than the authority paid for the hi-tech vehicle.
The CCTV Smart car is equipped with two DVD writers that can produce instant evidence discs.
Last night, Town Hall chiefs heralded the Smart car a success.

A council spokesman said: " We brought in the CCTV Smart car to deal with problem areas and safety issues raised by residents and businesses, and it has proved very successful in doing this.
"For instance, 222 notices have been issued outside schools through the car, seven on pedestrian crossings, and 1,251 on loading restrictions put in place to address safety issues."

Nationally, information obtained by Big Brother Watch shows that there are 54 CCTV camera cars patrolling 31 local council areas.
From April last year to March this year, these cars gathered evidence to issue just under 188,000 fines, bringing in £8 million in revenues for the local councils.

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch said: " The CCTV Smart car represents a very dangerous escalation in Britain's surveillance society.
"The vehicles are sent out to catch people and make money, with road safety only an afterthought.
"£8 million is an eye-watering amount to take in fines. It is surely only a matter of time before more councils start using these cars. The coalition government must act now and prevent that from happening."

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