Campaign groups have slammed Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with Londoners’ privacy’ after it emerged he had already granted Met Police access to new cameras installed for the expansion of the ULEZ.
The Mayor of London granted TfL the power to give the Met access to additional Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras last year when it faced serious backlash from privacy groups and adversarial advisers.
Newly installed ULEZ cameras have even been vandalized in some cases, including having their wires cut and lenses painted black amid growing backlash.
Over 300 ANPR cameras have recently been installed, while a total of 2,750 are expected to be added by the official August 29 launch date later this year.
It also emerged earlier this month that Mr Khan’s officials had secretly ordered hundreds of security cameras before the public voted to reject the project.
Campaign groups have denounced Sadiq Khan for ‘playing with the privacy of people in London’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has granted TfL the power to give the Met Police access to 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 to the decision with Open Rights Group, a privacy campaign organization and the Bindmans law firm in August last year.
In an update provided to TFL’s Audit and Insurance Committee, which met on Wednesday, a statement read: ‘The Met Police Service is currently working to complete its assessment of the additional cameras it wishes to access and privacy and equality impacts of that. be, for submission to TfL, before any access is granted.
Sophia Akram, policy officer at Open Rights Group, hit back at the mayor’s decision to put in place increased surveillance of people in the capital.
“Sadiq Khan has chosen to impose his decision to grant the Metropolitan Police access to ANPR data without public consultation, playing with the privacy of the people of London,” she told MailOnline.
“London is already one of the most surveilled cities in the world. We need further examination of how the ULEZ program will expand this surveillance, especially since it may eventually expand to other parts of the country.
The ULEZ is expanding to all 33 London boroughs from August 29 to “help clean London’s air and improve public health”.
Those with vehicles that fail to meet emissions standards must pay a daily charge of £12.50.
Mark Johnson, advocacy director of Big Brother Watch, echoed Ms Akram’s privacy concerns.
He told MailOnline: ‘ANPR is one of the largest surveillance networks in the UK, but remains dangerously unregulated.
“Sadiq Khan’s decision to extend police access to this database of public movements is a deeply concerning step.
“London is one of the most surveilled 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 respect Londoners’ right to privacy more and suspend these plans.”
TfL has worked with the Met Police to track criminals due to its extensive CCTV coverage and comprehensive ticketing and payment data.
The most recent update shows that British police forces have requested information from TfL 17,020 times, including more than 16,000 between the Met and British Transport Police.
The Met also made 11,870 CCTV requests to bus and railway companies operated by TfL. There were 249 requests to catch murderers, 1,251 for thieves and 1,224 for sex offenders.
Meanwhile, police have requested 43 audio recordings of London buses in relation to 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 failed to heed repeated warnings that sharing the Wider Clean Air Zone cameras with the police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners which should not be approved by his office.
The Met Police had access to CCTV and recordings of companies operated by TfL
The Mayor has proposed that the boundary of the ULEZ be widened from the North and South Circular Routes to cover London’s 33 boroughs from August 29, 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 must have a say in any decision.
“With so many terrible revelations that have driven 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 reduce air pollution for many months already, without all of this data being shared with the police, and now the mayor must reverse his hasty decision and instead protect the privacy of Londoners.”
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.