Comments : Councils under fire for using CCTV cameras to get parking fines.
Two Merseyside Councils have come under fire from civil liberties groups for carrying out controversial surveillance to enable them to hand out parking fines to the public. Both Wirral Borough Council and Liverpool City Council have been using vehicles equipped with cameras to identify parking violations.
Wirral Council made a massive £239,951 by using their CCTV cars between 2008 and 2013 and every week almost 30 charges were made meaning that over the five year period 7,513 charges were made from the Council’s surveillance cars alone.
A Conservative MP and civil liberties group Big Brother Watch have warned the Councils about their tactics as they believe that CCTV should only be used to protect the public and not to produce an income.
A nationwide ban has been called for by Big Brother Watch as nearly 10,000 charges were issued to motorists who were caught on CCTV in both Liverpool and Wirral areas in only 5 years.
From January 2012 when the car was brought in to March 2013, 2,354 penalty notices were issued to motorists in Liverpool. However, Liverpool City Council said the cars were used predominantly as a deterrent, especially to warn off drivers from parking around schools where children could be put at risk.
Nick de Bois, Conservative MP has said that drivers are being charged with unfair fines. He also urged that these Councils stick to the guidelines but with that being said, surveillance should be used solely for the purpose of protecting public safety.
He also said that even with research being carried out by Big Brother Watch, local authorities are continuing to use CCTV for other means than protecting public safety.
Councillors have struck back against these claims by ensuring that parking safety rules should be enforced by any measures necessary. A Wirral council spokesperson said the Wirral does not use fixed CCTV for parking enforcement therefore, the use of the cars equipped with cameras is essential to tackle disruptive or dangerous parking.
So what do you think? An intrusive use of surveillance for the councils own profits? Or a vital method used to protect the public safety?
Kirsty Rogers, Pali Ltd
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