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London’s Surveillance Scheme Rakes in Millions While Failing the Community

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

A scheme implemented by a Labour Party-controlled council in London, relying on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) surveillance, is proving to be a lucrative “business” for the council – but is essentially failing the community it is supposed to serve.

The system is meant to reduce traffic (“rat runs”) in what is known as low-traffic neighborhoods (LTNs). These projects gained momentum with the pandemic, with some now featured in the data gained through freedom of information requests, first introduced in mid-2020.

Two such areas under the authority of the Hammersmith and Fulham council – while reporting significant monetary gains (up to £1.5 million last month in just one LTN) – at the same time had the system issue an exorbitant amount of erroneous fines last year – 83%.

This means that more than 200,000 penalty notices (PCNs) were given to drivers who in reality had the right to enter a given LTN (52,000 fines were collected, while 266,400 PCNs had to be canceled).

And yet, both LTNs now under scrutiny brought in a total of £12 million in 2023, (that number could still grow by as much as 9 million if 75,000 pending PCNs are turned into collected fines.)

ANPR surveillance surveils vehicles via CCTV, while the system is also used to enforce restrictions and issue fines. But, residents who oppose the system say it doesn’t work.

Except, that is – as a “cash cow” for the council.

The council first tried to withhold revenue data but then had to make it public thanks to the FOIA request, and, for good measure, apologize because of the attempt to keep this information secret.

Given all this, opponents are now declaring the scheme a failure.

It was sold to the public as a way to “train” drivers not to use certain routes and tactics to avoid traffic jams, etc. Yet proof that this goal has not been achieved is in the financial pudding: four years on, had drivers picked up these new habits, revenue would have been falling.

Instead, the data the council had to release shows that it has been at more or less the same level as in 2020.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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