Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CCTV Not So SmartCar ticking timebomb

Tips 'n' icebergs an' all that!

I anticipate that many councils will be desperately checking their documentation to see whether they've blundered. Hard to justify censuring motorists if a council is breaking the law itself. A word of warning to those caught out ... just be open and transparent and admit the error and accept the consequences. There will be no super-injunctions available to council officers. The British public are a pretty forgiving lot when it comes to people admitting mistakes and saying sorry. They will however fight tooth and nail to expose those who deceive and lie.

Campaigner says Wirral CCTV spy car is 'illegal'
Wirral Globe
Monday 9th May 2011

THE campaigner who made national news by forcing a London council to take its CCTV "spy cars" off the road because of incorrect paperwork says Wirral must do the same.

Nigel Wise discovered discrepancies in the registration of cameras on two of Richmond and Twickenham council's Smart cars after being fined for parking last August.

Following his sucess in London, Mr Wise sent a Freedom of Information request to Wirral demanding to see their spy car paperwork.

Now he says he's found the same mistakes in Wirral's certificates - which would possibly invalidate fines.

Wirral Council has denied this however, and insists its certification is watertight.

Mr Wise successfully had his £100 fine overturned at a parking tribunal hearing last month after he revealed the Vehicle Certification Agency had not declared the actual camera that pictured him parked in the road as an “approved device”.

After the hearing, the council blamed the VCA for the administrative error and said all the council’s camera cars were “correctly licensed”.

But it was forced to make a U-turn and pull the cars off the road last week for officers to check documentation.

A Richmond council spokesman said officers would now go through documents with “a fine-toothed comb” and were looking into whether they would need to refund motorists.

It could have to hand back more than £1m in fines.

Mr Wise contacted the Globe after reading our website report on Friday that Wirral Council had confirmed certification of their car was all in order.

He said: " I think Wirral Council is in for a shock, a bombshell.

"The law clearly states that a council must be in a position to prove that the camera is an 'approved device.'

"Wirral Council would be unable to prove that - as no camera whatsoever is named on Wirral's certificates.

"Nor do they have the maker's name of the system used to record and review pictures.

"It is these elements that require certification. Not the car itself."

Mr Wise added: "This bare fact alone would invalidate any Wirral CCTV car fine or penalty that is taken to appeal.

"It is an inescapable fact that Wirral ought to now take their vehicles off the road forthwith pending the rectification of their inadequate and incomplete certificates."

He urged anyone who has recently received a penalty issued by the Wirral CCTV car to appeal.

The certificates have been seen by the Globe.

The Smart Car is the only item registered. There appears to be no mention of cameras or recording systems.

But a Wirral Council spokesman argued that the two cases are different.

He said: "It is our understanding that Richmond had made changes to its equipment which may have invalidated the original licences.

"Our equipment is the same as was originally approved by the Home Office. We are happy the licence is all in order."


Anonymous said...

I have just received a PCN Contravention Code 622 from Havering council. I am appealing on the following grounds.

PCN contains the words “ There are ways you can view the CCTV footage free of charge. First either you or your representative may view a recording of the contravention produced by the approved device, which resulted in the PCN”.

So the PCN is clear that the approved device is CCTV and has already changed to referring from an alleged contravention to a contravention, surely this is incorrect ?

Having studied the Code of Practice for Operation of CCTV Enforcement Cameras in The London Borough Of Havering, I am concerned that this PCN has not conformed to this code of practice and therefore is invalid and should therefore be cancelled.

The Code of Practice can be found on the following link

http://www.havering.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=13646&p=0 .(please cut and paste into your web browser)

The way this PCN has been served on the basis of a record produced by an approved CCTV device, is contravention of this Code of Practice, including (but not wholly restricted to the points I raise below).

1.1.2 states “It sets a minimum standard which must be adhered to by all those authorities in London enforcing traffic regulations using CCTV cameras to ensure public confidence in the scheme”.

The code of practice has NOT been adhered to and I will detail why this is below.

2.3.1 states “To do this, the system needs to be well publicised and indicated with lawful signs”.

I have driven from outside of Upminster to Engayne Gardens, from both the Thurrock and the Romford directions. I have not seen any publicity around this CCTV nor any signs. This leads me to believe that the system is not lawfully signed or well publicised. Are you able to make me aware of such lawful signs or publicity please ? Certainly I wasn’t aware that CCTV operates in my street, hence it is not well publicised or lawfully signed.

2.3.5 states “Relevant camera enforcement signs should be displayed in areas where the system operates. The signs will not define the field of view of the cameras but will advise that CCTV camera enforcement is taking place in the area”.

Once again, having driven of Upminster to Engayne Gardens, from both the Thurrock and the Romford directions. I have not seen any relevant camera enforcement signs, I do not believe there are any. Are you able to make me aware of such please, should they exist ?

Taking the above 2 points it’s clear to me that this PCN has been issued in contravention of this Code Of Practice, and as such please class this email as a formal appeal.

I’m sure if you take the time to familiarise yourself with the Code Of Practice, you will find a whole host of areas where, this PCN is not adhering to the Code Of Practice. I have merely highlighted those which stand out immediately and invite you to find more, as you dig into the detail.

Can you please advise whether the van to the left of the the video was also subject to a PCN, as the CCTV footage shows it to be parked outside the parking bays ? I am keen to understand if my vehicle was singled out, or all parking conditions on all vehicles were being enforced by CCTV. It was quite simply due to the van being parked outside the allocated bays, as can be clearly seen on the video above, which influenced my decision to leave the normal amount of road free to other road users and park slightly differently to how I normally do, in this instance in front of my own house. For info, this van regularly parks in this fashion and indeed has done so again this morning. Perhaps you can look to enforce this vans poor parking, as it is a clear repeat offender ?

Given I have given you evidence above, as regards where the Code of Conduct has not been complied with in issuing the PCN, I look forward to you contacting me to confirm the PCN is invalid and has been cancelled, at your earliest possible convenience.

Anonymous said...

Council turned down my letter and told me to cough up. I took the case to PATAS, who told the council to cancel the PCN, due to having a binding code of conduct published and no signage displayed, which is in contravention of the code of conduct. So i thought all good, as the adjudicators decision is binding for both parties. Imagine my surprise to find that despite it being binding, the council can now ask PATAS for a review and are doing just that.



I guess Havering council wants to win this, as it has massive ramifications for them, given that they have CCTV cars which cover the whole of the borough, but only a handful of signs, none of which anywhere near where i live.

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