Criminal damage to public property in Greater London could cost taxpayers tens of millions.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating more than 300 cases of vandalism and theft of CCTV cameras, which have been installed as part of the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to outer London, including Croydon, Bromley and Sutton.
ULEZ, which currently covers an area encircled by the South and North Circulars, is due to be extended to most of the rest of Greater London on August 29.
But attacks on the ULEZ infrastructure is forcing the police and Transport for London to take special measures to counter and catch the shadowy characters responsible for thousands of pounds of criminal damage.
Transport for London has been forced to develop a new “armoured” ULEZ camera to try to halt a growing wave of criminal attacks.
Inside Croydon’s loyal reader spotted two new ULEZ cameras yesterday which had received treatment from the criminal vandals’ paint brush or spray can – one, which appeared to have been cleaned up a little, at the top end of Upper Selsdon Road, the other, still suffering from the red mist, on Byron Road, opposite Sainsbury’s on the junction with Addington Road.
This week, ITV London reported that within two miles along the A224 in Orpington, a stretch of busy, multi-lane road that leads to the M25, at least 17 cameras had been stolen while three others had been vandalised.
The road is in Tory-controlled Bromley, which was one of five Conservative-run councils which staged a High Court challenge against ULEZ, and lost, leaving their Council Tax-payers to foot a massive legal bill.
According to Freedom of Information responses from TfL, ULEZ Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras – ANPRs – can cost an average of £50,000 each.
TfL’s new-look “RoboCop” reinforced cameras, meanwhile, have a steel case at the rear to protect the wires from being cut and the bolts from being severed.
TfL’s programme of installing 2,750 cameras and warning signs is costing £140million, but the criminal damage is clearly adding millions to those bills.
According to a BBC report today, more than 10per cent of the cameras have been vandalised or stolen between April and mid-August, with 339 reports of camera cables being cut, damaged, or cameras being stolen or obscured.
“The actual number of cameras affected is likely to be even higher as one report can represent multiple cameras,” the BBC caveated. Unofficial data mapping the location of disabled cameras suggests that almost 500 cameras could have been affected.
Despite so much damage having been caused, only one man has so far been charged by police.
A TfL spokesperson said: “Vandalism on our network is unacceptable and all incidents are reported to the police for investigation.
“We have increased the security of the ULEZ cameras following further incidences of vandalism and theft.
“The Met has been clear that this is vandalism of government property and is a criminal offence which could lead to prosecution.”
A shadowy group calling itself “The Bladerunners” has been reported to have claimed responsibility for some of the thefts and sabotage attempts. Some anti-ULEZ groups have been found to have links, and to have received funding, from the American far-right and Trump supporters.
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