Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Caught on Camera; Rogue Drivers Captured on Secret Snaps

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Caught on Camera; Rogue Drivers Captured on Secret Snaps

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Weatherall

NORTH East motorists will be among the first in the country to be targeted with new powers which would see them fined - without ever being aware they have been caught breaking the law.

Council chiefs on Tyneside are among the first in the country to adopt new powers which will allow them to use covert CCTV cameras to catch rogue motorists.

Drivers flouting bus lanes, parking outside schools and ignoring yellow lines could now be punished without ever realising they have been captured driving illegally. The first they would know of being fined is when a letter arrives at their home saying they have been caught on camera.

Highways chiefs in South Tyneside are among only a handful of councils outside London to apply for special powers which will allow them to use CCTV cameras fitted to a car.

The authority, along with private operator APCOA, is to invest in a Smart car equipped with CCTV recording equipment which will then trawl the streets of the borough searching for motorists breaking the law.

Council chiefs insist the move will help to tackle congestion and improve road safety but critics have said the system could alienate drivers and penalise those who have a legitimate reason for travelling in the monitored areas.

The Smart car is currently undergoing trials and neighbouring Gateshead Borough Council has admitted they have applied to the Department for Transport to operate a similar scheme. Sunderland and North Tyneside councils are both looking into the merits of a scheme but have yet to apply for permission.

Newcastle, Northumberland and Durham councils said there are no plans to introduce the scheme.

Safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has welcomed the plans, saying that the school run culture of parents parking in restricted areas outside school gates has become so bad that action needs to be taken to enforce parking rules.

However, John Franklin of the RAC said the proposal is just another way of targeting already hard pressed motorists. He said: "With private operators we sometimes have seen cases where they are more interested in issuing fines for everything rather than taking a common sense approach. …

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