Many local authorities now use CCTV as a tool (we say weapon) to enforce parking and moving traffic offences. These cameras are often hidden on lampposts with no signage. A few years ago the Government banned the use of CCTV cameras for parking enforcement in all but instances (such as on school zig zags and on red routes) but they are regularly used for moving traffic enforcement.
Of course by installing signs that are legally required under the Data Protection act 1998 many motorists wouldn’t offend but by hiding the camera’s local authorities are able to rake in millions of pounds from drivers unaware that CCTV is in use. Many councils now use CCTV smart cars as well. There have been several cases where adjudicators have ruled against councils using CCTV. Brief details of some of these decisions are further down on this page. For all CCTV decisions on this site please click the link to “adjudicators decisions” towards the top of this page on the left.
A CCTV car operated by Westminster City Council in order to improve road safety and compliance. You will note that it is parked on a double red line across a pedestrian dropped kerb.
Westminster council have a stated policy of providing cctv warning signs at the entrance to their controlled parking zones. In an appeal in June 2012 they lost because, after stating this policy, they failed to provide evidence of the CCTV warning signs to the adjudicator. He said:
“Where an Authority has a policy, even if it is one that they are not obliged to have by law, the principles of fairness require that they abide by that policy.”
A new code of conduct for the use of CCTV cameras was released. It basically mirrors what is said in the statutory guidance under the Traffic Management Act. You may wish to use it in any appeal although previously adjudicators have not had much regard to the guidance issued under the TMA as they say it is just guidance. The new guidance says
The primary purpose of any surveillance camera system used as part of civil enforcement arrangements must be the safe and efficient operation of the road network by deterring motorists from contravening parking or road traffic restrictions. Motorists may regard enforcement by cameras as over-zealous and relevant authorities should use them sparingly. Such systems should, therefore, only be deployed where other means of enforcement are not practical and their effectiveness in achieving this purpose is subject to regular review.
You can read the full details here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/204775/Surveillance_Camera_Code_of_Practice_WEB.pdf
Sainsbury’s supermarkets VS Camden Council
This is an extremely important case as clearly the council had not “had regard to” the guidance issued by the secretary of state in respect of CCTV enforcement.
Sometimes the adjudicators just say “it is just guidance” but here they have allowed an appeal solely on the basis that the council did not follow the guidance and should not have used CCTV. CCTV should only be used where CEO (civil enforcement officer) enforcement is not practical or where it is dangerous to use CEO enforcement. Neither was the case at this location. In fact pretty much all CCTV parking tickets issued by Local authorities are actually issued on the same roads where they have traffic wardens patrolling so it is clearly not impractical to use them! We have copied the decision in full in our parking adjudicators decisions section. Just go to parking at the top of the page and then chose adjudicator’s decisions from the left hand menu.
The operational guidance issued to local authorities as far ago as 31st March 2008 was meant to make parking enforcement fairer. Below is a summary of some of the points within the guidance some of which a motorist can use as the basis for an appeal as enforcing authorities must have regard to the guidance. However although local authorities “must have regard” to the statutory guidance an appeal based on it may not be successful. We have seen a case where the adjudicator said it is only guidance and not compulsory. However in a case on 3rd December 2010 involved Sainsbury’s who took Camden council to the adjudicator and won. Full details of the case are on our adjudicators decisions page . Basically Sainsbury’s argued that the council had not “had regard” to the guidance issued to local authorities by the secretary of state for transport in 2008. The guidance is clear in that CCTV enforcement should only be used where enforcement is difficult or sensitive. The council had not shown that it had had regard to the guidance before deciding to enforce using a camera. The case number is 211001669A. More details on the parking// adjudicator’s decisions page.
It is also worth mentioning that in her annual report in May 2011 Caroline Sheppard the chief adjudicator (England and Wales excluding London) said
“Councils cannot simply rely on the vehicle cctv being an approved device, it is how and where it is used that matters…”
“Enforcement authorities should regularly remind themselves of the transport secretary’s guidance and ensure that the use of CCTV enforcement is properly supporting their transport objectives and that it is being applied fairly and with integrity.”
It is also worth noting:-
Devices used to enforce parking must be certified by the Secretary of State. In London, there is a transitional period of 12 months ending on 30 March 2009. If the devices are not certified by the Vehicle Certification Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State, the Penalty Charge Notices are invalid and the enforcing authority may risk prosecution.
You may want to check that the camera that was used to catch you was certified.
The DfT website – This has a list of all councils currently certified and copies of their certification letters.
The VCA website – This has general guidance about the requirements for the certification of Approved Devices used for Civil Traffic Enforcement.
If you have a query about an approved device the contact details of the Vehicle Certification Agency are 1, The Eastgate Office Centre, Eastgate Road, Bristol, BS5 6XX, telephone: 01179 515151. www.vca.gov.uk (external link).
Next: Adjudicators Decisions for CCTV