Government signals end to CCTV use for parking fines

Image20If CCTV cameras are about public protection, why are they bringing in £300m in revenue from parking enforcement?

Firstly – and this goes to the heart of what Big Brother Watch has been campaigning on – the public are never, ever told that this is part of the deal when they accept greater CCTV surveillance. The rhetoric is always about violent crime, anti-social behavior and catching criminals. Would the public be as willing to accept yet more cameras if they had the full facts about how cameras are used?

If anyone can find us an example of a council justifying it’s need for greater CCTV on parking problems we’d love to hear about it.

Back in 2010 we reported on the rise of Drive By Spieswith 31 councils operating CCTV cars at the time. That number has now risen to more than 100.

That’s why, with every report we have published in recent years on CCTV, as well as our submissions to the consultation on the CCTV Code of Practice, we have argued for councils, indeed all CCTV operators, to publish statistics on how cameras are used. How many arrests? How many convictions? What offences are caught? If the public had the facts, maybe the Government wouldn’t need to act because people would express their views at the ballot box.

In the absence of such transparency, or any public arguments from councils that this is an essential part of CCTV use, we wholeheartedly support the Government’s plan to stop councils using CCTV for parking enforcement.

Equally, the move to allow compensation to be awarded where unreasonable tickets have been issued should help to restore some common sense to the system.
This is important because there’s the obvious question about whether the fines are all issued because someone is causing an actual obstruction, or if they are simply contravening a strict interpretation of the rules. In recent months we’ve had people contact us with tickets issued from CCTV where the footage shows they weren’t stationary long enough for another vehicle to even to come into shot, while another driver was issued with a box junction infringement ticket for being stationary for two whole seconds.

This isn’t just a question of money either. The legal basis for some types of CCTV being used as parking enforcement has long been dubious. If someone is using a camera to scan a street, then zooms in on an individual with the intent of monitoring them and potentially issuing a ticket, there are obvious questions about whether that constitues directed surveillance, therefore requiring a magistrate’s warrant under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Equally, if a camera has been installed for the purposes of ‘the prevention and detection of crime’ then is it legally acceptable for the data to be re-used for the purpose of traffic enforcement?

Ultimately, CCTV is never, ever going to solve the fundamental problem of there not being enough parking in town centres, and using cameras intended to catch criminals to issue parking tickets only undermines public trust in the surveillance they’ve been told to accept to protect their own safety, not to fill council coffers and justify expensive CCTV systems.




Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in CCTV, CCTV cars, Councils, Privacy | 6 Comments


  1. Richard
    27th September 2013

    The real scandal in all of this is the private parking enforcement industry’s access to our personal details through the DVLA, and then their use of this data to issue unlawful penalty’s to motorists, these ‘fines’ are then followed up with letters phone calls and various threats which are nothing short of bullying and intimidation scaring people to pay up.
    if you want to see what there upto with their cameras and our data just google Parking eye / APCOA or any other private company that uses its own private camera system and our data from the DVLA to intimidate and harass the public.
    The private parking industry is accountable to no-one but itself
    Its not saying much, but at least Local Authorities/councils etc are publicly accountable.
    private parking companies are accountable to no one but them selves.

  2. John
    30th September 2013

    Bournemouth Council certainly looking for a fight


  3. Even Microsoft Chief (Departed) Admits That Microsoft is a Very Serious Violator of Privacy | Techrights
    3rd October 2013

    […] Government signals end to CCTV use for parking fines […]

  4. Six Years On, Mumbai Awaits CCTV Project | Aglaia Interactive's Lifestyle Portal
    17th February 2014

    […] Government signals end to CCTV use for parking fines […]

  5. Michael Munns
    23rd February 2014

    I was caught on camera arriving and leaving Birchanger Green Services with a hired car from Stansted Airport 1am entry 8am exit did not see any signs or notices.Have been contacted since by Budget who informed me that I was the driver and that parking eye obtained ownership details and my details von Budget.This is an infringement of Data protection laws in Europe.Here in Germany where I live this Company would be behind bars.Where do the detail go afterwards.

  6. Ali
    15th April 2014

    Private parking enforcement companies are privately owned by the most bully, bad boys, in the society, some of them do not have registration, address, telephone lines, proper offices and location. Even if you want to communicate and pay them to get peace of mind and left you alone, you will never be able to contact them by phone, email or even letter writing because they are fake.

    Local councils, changed from service providers to money making, minded industry, careless because they do not voters anymore. 10% of each borough is enough to get seats who cares the rest.
    Both industry needs more investigation, rules and regulations, tariff control and proper procedures not hassling people.