Campaign groups have lashed out at Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with the privacy of Londoners’ after it emerged he has already allowed the Met Police access to new cameras installed for the ULEZ extension.
The Mayor of London last year granted TfL the authority to give the Met access to additional Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras when he faced severe backlash from privacy groups and opposing councilors.
Newly installed ULEZ cameras have even been vandalized in some cases, including having cables cut and lenses painted black amid growing backlash.
More than 300 ANPR cameras have recently been installed, while a total of 2,750 will be added later this year at the official launch date of August 29.
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 lashed out at Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with the privacy of Londoners’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan granted TfL the authority to allow the Met Police to access additional cameras used in the ULEZ extension
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.
In an update provided to TFL’s audit and insurance committee, which met on Wednesday, a statement said: “The Met Police Service is currently completing their assessment of which additional cameras they want access to and the implications for privacy and equality thereof. be, for submission to TfL, before any access is granted.’
Sophia Akram, policy manager at Open Rights Group, reacted to the mayor’s decision to increase surveillance over people in the capital.
“Sadiq Khan chose to push through his decision to allow the Metropolitan Police access to ANPR data without public consultation, playing with the privacy of Londoners,” she told MailOnline.
London is already one of the most guarded cities in the world. We need more control over how the ULEZ scheme will expand this oversight, especially as it could eventually spread to other parts of the country.”
The ULEZ will expand across all 33 London boroughs from 29 August to ‘help purify London’s air and improve public health’.
Those with vehicles that do not meet emissions standards will face a daily charge of £12.50.
Big Brother Watch advocacy Mark Johnson reiterated Ms. Akram’s privacy fears.
He told MailOnline: ‘ANPR is one of the largest surveillance networks in the UK but remains dangerously unregulated.
Sadiq Khan’s decision to allow the police to access this database of public movements is a very worrying move.
London is one of the most guarded cities in the world and already has a reputation as Britain’s panopticon.
Sadiq Khan has often spoken about the poor air quality in parts of London and drawn attention to climate change (Photo: Sadiq Khan at an air quality monitoring station)
“The mayor should be more respectful of Londoners’ right to privacy and put these plans on hold.”
TfL work with the Met Police to track down criminals due to its extensive CCTV coverage and comprehensive card and payment details.
The most recent update shows that UK police forces have requested information from TfL 17,020 times, with more than 16,000 between the Met and UK Transport Police alone.
The Met also made 11,870 CCTV requests from TfL-operated bus and rail companies. There were 249 requests to catch killers, 1,251 for thieves, and 1,224 for sex offenders.
Meanwhile, police requested 43 sound recordings from London buses in connection with 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 heeded repeated warnings that sharing the extended clean air zone’s cameras with the police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners that should not be signed off by his office.
The Met Police have been given access to CCTV and recordings from TfL owned businesses
The Mayor has proposed widening the ULEZ boundary from the North and South Circular Road to 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 should have a say in every decision.
“With so many appalling revelations that confidence in our police has reached an all-time low, Londoners should have been asked to entrust them with this huge database of their daily movements.
“The expanded ultra-low emission zone has been helping to reduce air pollution for months without all this data being shared with the police, and the mayor must now reverse his hasty decision and protect the privacy of Londoners instead.”
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 in fact ‘criminals in uniform’ and should be sacked.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: ‘The use of technology plays a key role in tackling serious crime and making London a safer place for everyone.
“The use of traffic cameras for ANPR on our roads, which aid in crime prevention and investigation, has been in effect since 2015 after being introduced by the previous mayor.
“Access by the Met to newly installed cameras in the London suburbs is in accordance with data protection requirements and will only be granted by Transport for London, subject to demonstrating proportionate and necessary on a case-by-case basis.”