3/13/2006UK: Spy Camera Ticketing to Increase
A single anti-crime camera in London, UK generated over $400,000 in revenue from minor traffic infractions.
British closed-circuit (CCTV) TV cameras originally designed to thwart street crime are increasingly being used to ticket motorists for minor infractions. On London's Albert Street, 2558 tickets -- most worth £100 each (US $172) -- have been issued to motorists who stopped briefly to unload groceries or double-parked for a minute or less. In 2008, the power to ticket motorists with CCTV will spread beyond the London pilot project and become a national program.
The London Times quotes Camden council spokesman Mark Roe explaining the program: "In order to sustain CCTV in Camden it is essential that funds are secured to monitor and maintain the system. Therefore, there is a reciprocal arrangement that all cameras may be used for traffic enforcement and all traffic enforcement cameras be used for community safety purposes."
One hundred residents signed a petition to complain about the overzealous ticketing, citing the council's zero-tolerance policies. For example, a motorist waiting for someone to pull out of a metered parking spot received a CCTV ticket. Others were ticketed for dropping passengers off, even in cases where absolutely no traffic was being blocked (see photo). The Camden council dismissed the residents' complaints.
CCTV cameras are able to monitor every stretch of road in an urban area, bringing every minor motoring indiscretion to the eyes of authorities. As the single Albert Street camera generated £255,800 (US $442,508) in revenue, use of the more than 8000 CCTV cameras nationwide could generate significant income. Yet the cameras have also seen other uses.
In January, Mark Summerton, 37, and Kevin Judge, 42, pled guilty to misusing the Sefton council CCTV camera to zoom in on a woman while she showered. The Summerton received a four month jail sentence and Judge two months. The camera supervisor knew of the ongoing voyeurism but did nothing to stop it, for which he was punished with 200 hours of community service. The Sefton council runs seventy cameras in the Liverpool area.