Campaign groups criticized Sadiq Khan for “gambling with the privacy of Londoners” after it emerged that he had already granted the Metropolitan Police access to new cameras installed for the ULEZ expansion.
The mayor of London gave TfL the power to give the Met access to additional automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras last year when he faced backlash from privacy groups and opposition councillors.
Newly installed ULEZ cameras have even been vandalized in some cases, even having their cables cut and lenses painted black amidst growing backlash.
More than 300 ANPR cameras have been installed recently, while a total of 2,750 will be added by the official launch date of August 29 later this year.
It also emerged earlier this month that Khan’s officials had secretly ordered hundreds of security cameras before the public voted to reject the project.
Campaign groups criticized Sadiq Khan for “playing with the privacy of Londoners”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given TfL the power to give the Met Police access to additional cameras used in the ULEZ expansion
Khan’s plans have been somewhat controversial, with London Assemblymember Sian Berry (Green) launching a legal challenge against the move with the Open Rights Group, an organization that campaigns for privacy, and the Bindmans law firm, in August last year.
In an update provided to TFL’s audit and assurance committee, which met on Wednesday, a statement said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is currently working to complete their assessment of which additional cameras they want access to and what the impact would be on security. privacy and equality. be, for submission to TfL, before any access is granted.’
Sophia Akram, policy manager at the Open Rights Group, responded to the mayor’s decision to implement more surveillance on people in the capital.
“Sadiq Khan chose to push through his decision to grant the Metropolitan Police access to ANPR data without public consultation, playing on the privacy of Londoners,” he told MailOnline.
‘London is already one of the most closely watched cities in the world. We need more scrutiny on how the ULEZ scheme will expand this surveillance, especially as it could ultimately spread to other parts of the country.”
ULEZ will expand to all 33 London boroughs from August 29 to “help clean London’s air and improve public health.”
Those with vehicles that do not meet emissions standards face a daily charge of £12.50.
Mark Johnson, defense manager for Big Brother Watch echoed Ms Akram’s privacy fears.
He told MailOnline: ‘ANPR is one of the biggest surveillance networks in the UK, but it remains dangerously unregulated.
‘Sadiq Khan’s decision to extend police access to this database of public movements is a deeply troubling move.
‘London is one of the most closely watched cities in the world and already has a reputation as Britain’s panopticon.
Sadiq Khan has often discussed the poor air quality in parts of London and has drawn attention to climate change (Pictured: Sadiq Khan at an air quality monitoring station)
“The mayor should be more respectful of Londoners’ right to privacy and shelve these plans.”
TfL have been working with Met Police to track down criminals due to their extensive CCTV coverage and comprehensive ticketing and payment data.
The most recent update shows that UK police forces requested information from TfL 17,020 times, with over 16,000 between the Met and the UK Transport Police alone.
The Met also made 11,870 CCTV requests from bus and train companies operated by TfL. There were 249 arrest requests for murderers, 1,251 for thieves and 1,224 for sexual offenders.
Meanwhile, police have requested 43 audio recordings of London buses in connection with traffic accidents.
When Mr Khan’s plans first surfaced, Sian Berry asked him to reverse his “hasty decision”. She said: “I am deeply disappointed that the mayor has not heeded repeated warnings that sharing cameras from the expanded clean air zone with police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners that his office should not condone.”
The Met Police have had access to CCTV and recordings of companies operated by TfL.
The mayor has proposed that the ULEZ boundary be extended from the north and south ring roads to cover 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 any decision.
“With so many horrifying revelations driving trust in our police to an all-time low, Londoners should have been asked if they would trust them with this massive database of their daily movements.
“The expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone has been helping to reduce air pollution for many months, without all of this data being shared with the police, and the mayor must now reverse his hasty decision and instead protect the privacy of Londoners”.
The Met has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley acknowledged last year that hundreds of Scotland Yard officers are actually “criminals in uniform” and should be sacked.