ULEZ cameras used for SNOOPING: Warning that Sadiq Khan is ‘playing with the privacy of millions’ by giving Met Police access to thousands of new ‘eyes in the sky’ coming to London
- Metropolitan Police are currently assessing which cameras they want access to
- The ULEZ is expanding across all London boroughs from August 29 this year
- Critics say that Sadiq Khan is ‘playing with the privacy of London’s inhabitants’
Campaign groups have hit out at Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with the privacy of London’s inhabitants’ after it emerged he has already granted the Met Police access to new cameras installed for the ULEZ expansion.
The Mayor of London granted TfL the power to give the Met access to additional Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras last year when he faced serious backlash from privacy groups and opposing councillors.
Newly installed ULEZ cameras have even been vandalised in some cases, including having their wires cut and lenses painted black amid growing backlash.
More than 300 ANPR cameras were recently installed, while a total of 2,750 are set to be added by the official launch date on August 29 later this year.
It also emerged earlier this month that Mr Khan’s officials had secretly ordered hundreds of enforcement cameras before the public voted to reject the project.
Campaign groups have hit out at Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with the privacy of London’s inhabitants’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan granted TfL the power to give the Met Police access to additional cameras used in the ULEZ expansion
Mr Khan’s plans have been somewhat controversial, with London Assembly member Sian Berry (Green) launching a legal challenge against the move with Open Rights Group, a privacy campaigning organisation, and law firm Bindmans, in August last year.
READ MORE: The victims of Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion
In an update provided to TFL’s audit and assurance committee, which met on Wednesday, a statement said: ‘The Met Police Service are currently working to complete their assessment of which additional cameras they want access to and what the privacy and equalities impacts of that would be, for submission to TfL, prior to any access being given.’
Sophia Akram, policy manager at Open Rights Group, hit back at the mayor’s decision to implement more surveillance on people in the capital.
‘Sadiq Khan chose to push through his decision to grant the Metropolitan Police access to ANPR data without public consultation, playing with the privacy of London’s inhabitants,’ she told MailOnline.
‘London is already one of the most surveilled cities in the world. We need more scrutiny about how the ULEZ scheme will expand this surveillance, especially as it could ultimately spread to other parts of the country.’
The ULEZ is expanding across all 33 London boroughs from August 29 to ‘to help clear London’s air and improve public health’.
Those with vehicles which do not meet the emissions standards face a daily charge of £12.50.
Mark Johnson, advocacy manger of Big Brother Watch echoed Ms Akram’s privacy fears.
He told MailOnline: ‘ANPR is one of the largest surveillance networks in the UK, yet remains dangerously unregulated.
‘Sadiq Khan’s decision to extend police access to this database of the public’s movements is a deeply concerning step.
‘London is one of the most surveilled cities in the world and already has a reputation as Britain’s panopticon.
Sadiq Khan has often discussed the poor air quality in parts of London and drawn attention to climate change (Pictured: Sadiq Khan at an air quality monitoring station)
‘The Mayor should pay more respect to Londoners’ right to privacy and shelve these plans.’
TfL has been working with the Met Police to track down criminals due to its extensive CCTV coverage and comprehensive ticketing and payment data.
The most recent update shows that UK police forces requested information from TfL 17,020 times, with more than 16,000 between the Met and British Transport Police alone.
The Met also made 11,870 CCTV requests from TfL-operated bus and rail companies. There were 249 requests to catch murderers, 1,251 for thieves and 1,224 for sex offenders.
Meanwhile, the police requested 43 audio recordings from London busses in relation to traffic accidents.
When Mr Khan’s plans first surfaced Sian Berry called on him to reverse his ‘hasty decision’. She said: ‘I am deeply disappointed that the Mayor has not listened to repeated warnings that sharing the cameras from the expanded clean air zone with the police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners that should not be signed off by his office.
The Met Police has been given access to CCTV and recordings from TfL-operated companies
The Mayor has proposed for the ULEZ boundary to be widened from the North and South Circular roads to cover all 33 London boroughs from 29 August 2023 in a bid to reduce toxic air pollution in the capital
‘I have been telling the Mayor since 2019 that sharing this data with the police is wrong and that Londoners must have their say in any decision.
‘With so many awful revelations bringing trust and confidence in our police to an all-time low, Londoners should have been asked if they would trust them with this massive database about their daily movements.
‘The expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone has been helping cut air pollution for many months already, without all this data being shared with police, and the Mayor must now reverse his hasty decision and instead protect Londoners’ privacy.’
The Met has come under intense scrutiny in recent years with Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley acknowledging last year that hundreds of Scotland Yard officers are effectively ‘criminals in uniform’ and should be sacked.
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