Drive-by Spies: CCTV cars issue £8 million in fines in just 12 months

New research conducted by Big Brother Watch – the non-partisan grassroots campaign fighting intrusions on our privacy and freedom – reveals that 54 CCTV Smart Cars operated in 31 local councils in Britain, caught and fined at least 188,000 motorists between April 2009 and March 2010.

To read the full report, with a breakdown of which councils have CCTV Smart cars and the amount each accrued in fines – please click here.

Top lines from the research include:

  • There are currently 54 CCTV Smart cars patrolling 31 local council areas in Britain.
  • CCTV Smart cars have made councils at least £8,069,714.67 in fines in the period 1st April 2009 – 31st March 2010. This is equal to £322,788.58 for every council operating a CCTV Smart car, or £187,667.78 per car.
  • In the same period, CCTV Smart cars have been involved in the punishment of at least 187,993 motorists.
  • The average cost of purchasing a CCTV Smart car is £40,547.83, however the majority of councils (22 of the 31) lease their cars from private parking contractors. Given the high return in fines from these cars and the contracts, Big Brother Watch is concerned that the spread of the CCTV car is being fuelled by private contractors for commercial reasons, and by councils for revenue raising purposes.

Research conducted by Big Brother Watch has revealed that there are now 54 CCTV cars patrolling 31 local councils in Britain. Of these councils 25 have provided data on the use of their CCTV Smart car, which records that in total, mobile CCTV in the UK issued just under 188,000 fines in the period 1st April 2009 – 31st March 2010, totalling a staggering £8 million in revenue.

Big Brother Watch is opposed to any increase in state surveillance, particularly directed surveillance – sent out to catch people and raise revenue rather than any intention to make the streets safer. This concern is heightened because 22 of the 31 councils lease their CCTV cars from private parking contractors, who make no secret of the vehicles' usefulness in making profits. The evidence in our report  suggests that the spread of the CCTV car is being fuelled by private contractors for commercial reasons, and not in any effort to reduce dangerous driving.

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 in just 25 councils. 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."  

To see if your local council has a CCTV Smart car, and the amount its made in fines – take a look at the full report by clicking here.