London’s Metropolitan Police has reported that close to 800 cameras set up to monitor Mayor Sadiq Khan’s environmental car tax initiative have been stolen or vandalized since May.
This summer, Mayor Khan widened the scope of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) — initially designed to curtail traffic and pollution in Central London — to cover the broader region of the city.
This move imposes a tax on drivers throughout the city, including suburban and semi-rural zones, ranging from £12.50 to £27.50, contingent on whether their vehicles align with the climate standards set by the local Labour Party government.
The decision has faced significant opposition, with instances of civil protests arising. Certain groups and individuals, such as the “Blade Runners,” have been focusing on the license plate recognition cameras installed citywide to oversee the environmental tax.
Data from the Metropolitan Police indicates that, from April 1st to September’s end, 200 cameras were stolen, with another 595 reported damaged. An operation was initiated in May focusing on crimes associated with the ULEZ. The police shared that they are allocating substantial resources to this cause.
The Metropolitan Police stated, “Where potential leads arise, our local teams will employ various investigative methods, such as CCTV reviews, searching for witnesses, and assessing forensic evidence.”
However, even with significant resources allocated, the police have made only four arrests since May. One of the notable arrests includes actor and activist Laurence Fox, who was arrested on charges of conspiracy and instigation while not directly implicated in damaging cameras.
Given the surge in attacks on ULEZ monitoring systems, Transport for London (TfL) has reportedly introduced up to 20 camera-equipped vans to bolster the existing surveillance infrastructure and ensure continued enforcement of the environmental tax.
In response to these acts, TfL commented, as cited by The Times, “Damaging our infrastructure is unacceptable, and we always report such cases to the police. Vandalizing ULEZ cameras can lead to legal repercussions for the offenders, endangering them and the general public.”
Yet, this wave of civil protest has garnered support, notably from former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith. He commented in August, expressing skepticism about the purported air quality benefits claimed by Mayor Khan’s office and mentioned, “Many of my constituents have taken actions like covering the cameras or damaging them. I support their actions, as they are contending with an unwanted imposition, misled about its benefits.”