August 11, 2022

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Sadiq Khan challenged over plans to expand ULEZ camera monitoring

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The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been issued a legal challenge over plans to...

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been issued a legal challenge over plans to allow the Metropolitan Police access cameras that would be used to monitor the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The ULEZ now covers Greater London and requires cars to pay a fee if they do not meet the right emissions level.

The former mayor, Boris Johnson, granted police “limited access” to data from Automated Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) road cameras in 2014.

In May, Mr Khan expanded these powers to include the whole of inner London, not just the congestion charging zone, and add “enhanced contextual imagery data” from road cameras.

This means police will be given access to photographs of roads showing the colour and make of vehicles, and potentially images of the faces of drivers and people walking past on the pavement.

Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry said she was working with Open Rights Group, a privacy campaigning organisation, and law firm Bindman’s to prevent the mayor waving through a new police surveillance network, without any public consultation with Londoners.

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.

“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.

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“The expanded ULEZ 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.”

Members of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) road cameras have described the mayor’s plans as “a gargantuan increase of surveillance in London”.

They added that there may also be a disproportionate effect on ethnic minority communities due to placement of the cameras.

Salima Budhani, Partner at Bindmans, said:  “The scheme involves sharing with the police a vast amount of data recording the whereabouts of Londoners going about their daily lives.

“The mayor was under a clear duty to provide information and seek views before signing off the scheme.”

The Mayor of London has been approached for comment.

Picture top: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (Picture: PA)

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