By Ray Massey
Fined after parking for exactly 17 seconds: Spy cameras hit innocent drivers as tickets soar fivefold
Persecuted motorists are being handed five times as many parking tickets as they were a decade ago, figures show.
New mobile CCTV cameras are being used to catch drivers who may only have stopped momentarily. One case was based on just 17 seconds of film.
There have even been instances of automated fines being generated for moving vehicles.
More than four million tickets with penalties of up to £105 a time were dished out by wardens and councils across the country last year.
Numbers have leapt more than ten per cent in the past two years, fuelled by the introduction of controversial CCTV-equipped camera cars.
Instead of tickets being slapped on the windscreen, drivers discover a fine only when the automatically generated ticket drops through their letterbox.
But misuse of the cameras has led to a stinging rebuke from the official appeals watchdog, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
The number of people successfully challenging their tickets has risen by an astonishing 20 per cent in the past two years.
In one case that was thrown out on appeal, a council issued a ticket using CCTV footage of ‘some 17 seconds’.
In another rejected case, a fine was issued when a car stopped for 46 seconds to allow driver and passenger to swap places.
The report also highlights cases of camera cars parking on double yellow lines to catch errant drivers and councils that fail to put up signs warning drivers that CCTV is in operation.
Motoring groups said cash-strapped councils were increasingly using parking charges and fines to fill ‘black holes in their coffers’.
Government guidance says councils should use automatic CCTV cameras ‘sparingly’ as motorists regard such enforcement as ‘overzealous’.
The Association of British Drivers said the damning statistics proved that the ‘war on motorists was far from over’.
ABD founder member Hugh Bladon said: ‘Councils are desperate for money and the motorist is an easy target. Things can only get worse.’
The Traffic Management Act, which came into force on March 31, 2008, was claimed to make parking enforcement ‘fairer’ by reigning in overzealous wardens.
But it also permitted local authorities to send tickets by post if infringements are detected by CCTV camera cars.
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s figures show that the number of tickets issued rose from 3,832,322 in 2007-08 – the year before the Act came into force – to 4,035,555 in 2008-09 and then jumped again to 4,245,998 in 2009-10.
The tribunal’s chief adjudicator, Caroline Sheppard, said problems with enforcement using CCTV cars included the issuing of tickets where the penalised vehicle is clearly moving, or where there is a valid exemption for unloading.