Reporting a Road Incident to the Met

The Metropolitan Police have had a useful web site for reporting a crime or road accident for some time – see , where is not an emergency. It’s very easy to use and saves you having to visit a police station. They also now seem to have added a specific page to enable you to report a road incident and upload some dashcam footage – see:

But one person said on Twitter: “Can someone explain why I can film freely with a dashcam but to put a CCTV camera in a public space I have to jump through various legal hoops under the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice issued “to ensure that the use of cameras is only used in pursuit of a specified purpose”.

That’s a good question. A quick review tells me that this is a complex area of regulations. The use of video cameras is governed by two bodies – the Information Commissioner (ICO) who lays down guidelines, and the Surveillance Commissioner who regulates Police Forces and Local Authorities but their guidance is only advisory for other organisations so far as I can see.

But the ICO barely seems to be keeping up with technology. For example they say “The ICO recommends that users of drones with cameras should operate them in a responsible way to respect the privacy of others” and not much more.

In essence I conclude that a dashboard camera (dashcam) is no different to using any other kind of camera in a public place and hence is not subject to regulation except that any photographs that may contain personal information need to be stored securely and other data protection rules apply.

But a fixed video camera that covers a public place (e.g. a street outside your house) is subject to guidelines issued by the ICO and unless there is a justifiable purpose a complaint against it might be upheld.

There is clearly a general privacy issue here. Dashcams are obviously very useful if an accident has occurred or a potential crime. That has to be counterbalanced against the pervasive surveillance of the population that now happens in all locations and at all times. In London this has reached astonishing proportions. One estimate is that there are 500,000 video cameras in London and the Police have access to the Congestion Charge and ULEZ cameras and others that will soon cover most of London. That’s in addition to all the commercial and domestic cameras. In essence privacy has disappeared if you live in London!

Roger Lawson


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Croydon Still Raking It In From Video Cameras

Despite the Deregulation Act 2015 severely restricting the use of mobile video cameras to enforce parking restrictions, they are still being used to penalise moving traffic offences. Croydon Council has been making lots of money from their use in a spy car to police a width restriction in Waddon Way. It issued 765 Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) between June and September 2015 for “failing to give way” (offence code 37J) at that location.

Waddon Way Croydon Edited

Waddon Way is a short cut used by a lot of traffic and an artificial width restriction with “one way working” was introduced by the Council. As in many other locations where such measures have been installed, this resulted in numerous accidents and confrontations – indeed some councils have subsequently removed them. But Croydon Council, now controlled by the Labour Party, would prefer to make money from it instead.

We have opposed the use of these traffic calming arrangements and using mobile camera cars to enforce them is exceedingly dubious. Unless there is an actual accident, it is debateable that an offence has been committed in many cases. But the usual principle of camera operators is to issue a PCN regardless and force the recipient to contest it, i.e. you are assumed to be guilty until you prove yourself to be innocent, which is an inversion of real justice. And surely using cameras to police moving traffic offences should also be banned.

Roger Lawson