back to article Volunteer biker gang foils Westminster CCTV car fleet

A band of bikers have recently taken to helping motorists in Westminster identify the London borough's fleet of CCTV smart cars. The ominous grinding sound in the background is either the sound of gears being changed – or Westminster council welcoming the move from between gritted teeth. The present confrontation follows a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The camera masts are indeed four feet high

    and, to be honest, if you fail to notice a white Smart with a four foot camera mast on the roof, you're probably already well on your way to a due care and attention offence anyway...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      There's a demo on 5 Nov at Westminster City Hall

      To see how these cars are far from a 'visible deterrent' and are deployed where signs are inadequate for maximum revenue, check out some of these videos:

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "perk of the office" :)

    More likely a telescopic pole. If it is a telescopic pole and in its extended state is so high than it will clearly violate a couple of regs regarding peeking into people's private property. Not that the council CCTV drones do not do it anyway by directing the cameras to "spots of interest" anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I believe they call it a "Health Check"

      Had a mate who was assigned to monitor the CCTV footage for a while. Heard plenty of stories of abusing them - zooming them in on hot women (even capturing a few "up the skirt" shots. They jokingly called them "health checks".

      Also heard 1 story of it saving some poor sailor from a lot of trouble with the law... the guys in the CCTV room filmed the sailor and a young lass late night antics as they wandered through a deserted mall.... later the young lady made a complaint of rape to the police. Long story short, the CCTV footage showed it was consensual and the complaint was dropped.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        "(even capturing a few "up the skirt" shots."

        With a 4' mast on top of car? I had heard there were some very long legged ladies in the city, but a skirt higher than about 9' from the ground? I am feeling intimidated! :-)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    We need more of this.

    People to watch the watchers. I'm pretty sure the driversof the cars hate be followed and spied upon.

    Now join the club.

  4. RyokuMas
    Thumb Up

    Nice one!

    ... but how long before the bikers are arrested for "obstruction of justice" or some similar nonsense?

    Still love it, though.

  5. yakitoo
    Thumb Up

    Rather like

    the way that it was parked on double lines.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The councils make the law an ass

    I once - somewhat naively - argued the case for cameras, believing that the underlying motive was a desire to prevent death and injury. But harsh experience has proved to me that the people who behind this are equipped with nothing more than a cash register.

    I was photographed pulling into a carpark, which necessitated crossing a bus lane, and received a penalty notice for driving in a bus lane. I objected, pointing out that I was merely parking and had not travelled any significant distance in the lane. Reality arrived in the form of a standard rejection notice basically setting out how I could spend huge amounts of time and money taking the complaint to appeal (in the knowledge that practically no one would want to do so).

    This event has not merely demolished my illusion that cameras having something to do with safety. What can you think of a governing body that penalises citizens who are striving to uphold the rules we have agreed on? It makes a mockery - an ass - of the whole system.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      You're obviously a bit slow..

      .. if you have failed to notice this trend over the last, say, 15 odd years or so.

      The golden rule is simple: if anything CAN be abused it WILL. Rules and ethics be damned, the only behaviour management is called "getting away with it or not".

    2. Anonymous Coward

      so, what's your point?

      Now, back on your head.

  7. james marley
    Thumb Down

    Parking Violations you say?

    Like leaving your CCTV Camera car sat on double yellows?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Parking Violations you say?

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that.

      Although i've spotted similar cars where I live and have had to photograph them for parking on double yellows or making a junction unpassable because the smart car driver has done a runner!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      these guys on motorbikes are bellends

      That T-junction is left turn only except for cyclists who can turn right through a chicane. It's also a known spot for Wockney Canker cab drivers to dummy left and then whip around to the right. I've almost been taken out by the twats twice. Fine by me if the council sits and ticket the lot of them.

      Is there any evidence that these camera cars do actually turn a profit for the council after the cost of the cars, the cameras, the drivers' wages, the monitoring and billing, the ripoff contract with the private company?

      1. Please don't manhandle me

        No Right Turn

        In response to the comment titled "these guys on motorbikes are bellends":

        The reason the taxi drivers (and other vehicles) turn left and then do a U-turn is because it's perfectly legal - they are not breaking the law so the council cannot fine them! They can only fine people who don't comply with the 'no right turn' sign, ie. motorists that turn right (which, I'm sure you'll agree, is less dangerous than turning left and then doing a U-turn). The 'no right turn' is not there for safety reasons, it's purely an attempt to stop vehicles using the road as a "short-cut", which just causes more congestion on neighbouring roads.

        Westminster City Council make more money from parking charges and fines than any other council in the UK so they are obviously making a profit, even though they pay NSL Services Ltd, the company that holds the parking enforcement contract and operates the CCTV cars, over £100,000.00 per month for each camera car!

    3. Throatwobbler Mangrove

      It's not a parking violation

      "3. Will the Smart Cars have to be parked legally?

      The vehicles have Parking Identifier Boards which exempt parking on paid for parking places, resident bays, and single and double yellow lines. They may not park anywhere else and only obtain the exemption by means of carrying out a statutory function. "

  8. g e
    Thumb Up

    Time wasters

    Surely the plucky Motorcyclingists are free to 'waste' their own time as they please?

    It'll be an offence to follow the cars soon, you wait.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Of course it will ...

      ... and intention will be irrelevant, as with so many other truly wrong strict liability crimes. Thus, merely being within sight of the camera will make you liable to a fine. That will keep roads safe/generate revenue (delete as appropriate). It will probably apply to merely walking past one too, bringing a whole new range of people into the money-grasping claws of Westminster council (and then all the others that will quickly follow suit once they see the chance to make money).

      I hate our current society, I really do.

  9. Ragarath
    Thumb Up

    Well done!

    Well done those bikers. In my opinion those cars do not seem very visible and so, how are they a deterant?

    "The council's two CCTV cars both have 15 foot cameras and large signage to make them clearly visible and easy for motorists to spot, so I'm not sure that this is the best use of the motorcyclists' time."

    Where was the mentioned signage? I did not see any.

    And this comes from someone that thinks people speeding should be caught by cameras (as long as they are there as a deterant with signage).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      burn in hell

      the only place cameras should be used in enforcement is if they are in a human's hands.

  10. davefb

    some in manchester as well.

    It's outrageous infringement of the civil liberties of the utter nutcases who decide to scream down bus lanes passing stationary traffic just to cut in at the next junction or park on double yellow lines making a two lane road into one ( just to get a paper or whatever) or heaven forbid those 30minute phone conversations that commuting shouldnt get in the way of ( obviously so important that hands free just doesnt cut it). Yes , terrible infringement..

    Obviously these people have much more important jobs than everyone else including the pedestrians , cyclists and other car/wagon/van drivers who have to get out of their way when they barge back into traffic or swing suddenly down a side road.

    tbh I'd have thought motorcyclists would have thanked the council for trying to clamp down on the idiots. The irony being, you know if you can't actually see those things, then you know maybe you're not paying enough attention to the driving?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: some in manchester as well.

      I have seen them in Manchester - pity they throw their Highway Code out the window and park where ever the f**k they like. Never any scallies about when you need them, i'm sure they could topple those cars over ha ha

  11. The BigYin

    This is the same council...

    ...that thinks a motorcycle pollutes more than a Hummer (20mpg, CO2 327g/km)! "motorcycles, even small ones, pollute more than Hummers" (Susie Burbridge, Conservative Councillor)

    Now I will grant you that rose petals do not come tumbling out the zorst of a GSX-R, but they do not pollute more than a Hummer. An MP3 Hybrid will do 165mpg and only produce CO2 40g/km!

    Why Westminster are hell-bent on discouraging part of the solution to their congestion problems is completely beyond me. One person on a bike is one less person in a cage.

    The main criticism I have of the biking world (this includes all magazines and manufacturers) is that they make it so hard to find out MPG, CO2 emissions etcs. This should be easily available and the real-world figures made available by the magazines in every article/review. I'm looking at you Bauer.

    1. Adam Williamson 1

      as el Reg is always saying...

      ...CO2 emissions are not the entirety of 'pollution'. Not necessarily even the most important element.

      1. Daniel 4

        Parts Per Million != Grams Per Mile

        "...CO2 emissions are not the entirety of 'pollution'. Not necessarily even the most important element."

        No, they aren't. However, most studies showing the average modern fuel injected motorcycles performing so poorly do so in terms of ppm pollutant in the exhaust stream. Oddly enough, they never seem to break this out into a per-mile comparison. Since a Hummer has a /slightly/ larger engine than, for example, my Burgman 400 (only about an entire order of magnitude!), this unsurprisingly starts to level those numbers out quite a bit.

        That's not to say that motorcycle exhaust is great, or that every bike is a winner - just that this automatic assumption that just because it's a gasoline engine on two wheels that it must be spewing out 10, 20, 50, 90 (whatever number comes from your favorite, probably biased, study) times the pollution is flawed. Yes, the worst of the worst is pretty damn bad, but in the small and mid-sized bike markets it's actually quite easy to get something which will beat a Hummer on /every/ pollutant level in the real world.


        1. The BigYin

          @Daniel 4

          "Parts Per Million != Grams Per Mile"

          Yup. Your bikes PPM could be 10 times worse than a Hummer's, but if you produre 1,000 times less particles you're on to a winner.

          One problem facing use two-wheeled-hooligans is that there is little space on a bike to fit a Cat, particle filters etc that one can do on larger vehicles. The other issue is that almost all bike engines are race derived. They want to rev high and that does not always lead to good economy or efficiency. Some cars are approaching bikes for efficiency (especially in the urban cycle) and this is due to them being specifically targeted at efficiency. Low MPG sells in the car world, it's hidden information in the bike world.

          Of course, bikes still take less material to make, reduce wear on roads and take less space when driven/parked.

  12. Pen-y-gors
    Thumb Up


    I'm often tempted to do something similar with our own local mobile speed cameras - have a nice sign warning people to slow down for the camera and put it up a hundred yards from the van - they can't complain as their purpose is to make sure that people don't speed rather than catching them when they do, and if a nice sign does that, well, three cheers!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Bet you are in favor of radar detectors too?

      OK, I REALLY don't get this type of attitude??? Are you also in favor of having someone sat outside your house telling the burglar when you are getting home so they don't get caught breaking the law???

      And how the hell are radar detectors legal??? Their ONLY purpose is to warn you that you are about to get caught breaking the law!!!???

      Why do soooooo many people have an issue with people getting caught breaking the law (and in a dangerous manner) ????

      No wonder the country is going down the crapper when we prefer to make it difficult for people breaking the law to be caught.

      1. Daniel 4

        Re: Bet you are in favor of radar detectors too?

        "OK, I REALLY don't get this type of attitude??? Are you also in favor of having someone sat outside your house telling the burglar when you are getting home so they don't get caught breaking the law???"

        Very, very strange analogy. In one case, a disgruntled citizen performs a perfectly legal action which results in a another citizen /not/ breaking the law, and not getting a perceived to be (important, read what's coming) UNFAIR ticket issued not to increase safety or decrease crime, but rather to increase revenue. In the other, a disgruntled citizen actually becomes an accessory to the crime of burglarizing a home... if after a bit of cool contemplation you still think this is a good comparison, then I probably have nothing more to say to you. Otherwise, keep reading.

        "And how the hell are radar detectors legal??? Their ONLY purpose is to warn you that you are about to get caught breaking the law!!!???"

        For someone who doesn't own, or want, a radar detector (and frankly considers them to be both a bad idea and a waste of money), this is a rather philosophical question. Do we really think that it should be illegal to modify equipment /you own/ to, for example, run linux, play back ups of your games, run applications of /your/ choosing, not those blessed by the Holy Imprint... yet, nearly all of those examples had at least one phase where the /only/ thing 99% of the people using it were doing with it were breaking the law (or, depending on jurisdiction, civil contract). Personally, I like living in a world where the iphone gets jailbroken, where the ps3 is used to run linux based supercomputing clusters and the xbox has become one of the most economical and useful media center platforms around. This all depends on a world where we let people have things which, hypothetically, have no "legitimate" use. I have no idea what practical use someone could do with a radar detector /other/ than for breaking the law, but I'm sure there's something.

        "Why do soooooo many people have an issue with people getting caught breaking the law (and in a dangerous manner) ????"

        Well, back to the CCTV cameras, I think the biggest issue that the /majority/ have is simply that they aren't BELIEVED to increase safety AT ALL. They are seen as CASH COWS. People that may well have a "I did the crime, I'll pay the fine" attitude most of the time can get rather irate when they think that the only reason they are paying the fine is to fill someone else's pockets.

        And, before we even start to argue about whether the cameras are safety motivated, profit motivated, or some mix, it's important to realize that it doesn't matter. It's what people believe that matters, and people believe they are being ripped off.

        Of course, some people are just inconsiderate asses who don't even consider that the safety of other people on the road may be endangered by their driving, or don't care. In my experience, these are the type most likely to own radar detectors, and then drive as if rocket propelled most of the time, then slam on the brakes and come shuddering down to the speed limit on a regular basis. But you don't need a radar detector to drive like an ass, and having one won't automatically convert a good driver into a bad one.

        "No wonder the country is going down the crapper when we prefer to make it difficult for people breaking the law to be caught."

        Or, it could be because not enough people are making even a token attempt to see the opposition's point? In all sincerity, your post was so party line that it read like an astroturf post*. Assuming you are a private individual, I'd strongly suggest you try to actually pay attention to people when they talk. It's not like I've said anything here that hasn't been posted to El Reg a hundred or more times.


        * Of course, if you are an astroturfer, why are you bothering? I would have thought y'all would have figured out those who dwell in the El Reg comment board are not good astroturfing targets. For one thing, as a group we are opinionated and cynical.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bet you are in favor of radar detectors too?

          I don't quite get your logic on why the burglar analogy is flawed? Maybe it isn't perfect but the point I was trying to make is that anything/anyone who's sole purpose is to let people who are breaking the law know that they are about to get caught is wrong.

          The analogy is pretty close. A 'concerned' citizen is letting people who may be breaking the law know they are in danger of getting caught by making it obvious that these camera cars are around. Just like the lorry driver flashing his lights on the motorway. . Where is this analogy wrong? Just because the citizen is not directly related to the crime being committed is irrelevant.

          So, if you get a speeding ticket you are not more likely to not speed? I would say this is almost by definition "decreasing crime". If not, then you sound like you might fall into your own subsequently defined "inconsiderate asses" class. I have/had a close friend's family completely wiped out due to some ass doing 98mph in a 40 zone. Killed 2 adults and 2 kids. Speeding, jumping lights etc... are illegal for a reason. I agree, there are plenty of asses out there that will never learn/don't care. Does this mean we need to get rid of the laws then?

          As for "unfair", well, it always is unfair when you get caught isn't it !?? Our prisons are FULL of people who didn't do anything wrong and their incarceration is unfair !!

          Regarding the modification question... Yes it is philosophical and I think we actually agree here. Unfortunately at the moment modifying your hardware IS illegal (depending on where you are and who the judge of the moment is). Again, unfortunately whether something should be illegal or not is not the issue being discussed here. Turning when you are not supposed to IS illegal. Speeding IS illegal. Driving whilst on a mobile IS illegal. Should they all be??? THAT is the philosophical part. Getting caught doing them is not philosophical. Neither is it 'unfair'. You broke the law. You got caught. End of story.

          Regarding radar detectors, I am not quite sure what your stance is here? Their function is in their name. Their sole purpose is to detect radar. Pretty unambiguous I think. I don't know a single person using one for any other purpose. Do I know people who use mod chips or copy DVDs so the originals they own don't get damaged? Yes. Guess which one is illegal though??? The one with the most money behind it.

          For the CCTV debate, I expect we probably agree on much more than you would initially think. Obviously cameras DO reduce crime other wise it would not be the billion dollar business it is. Shops have them, warehouses have them etc... to catch thieves/nogooders. Are they abused. Sure. Should they be completely removed because of this? That is another philosophical question? Personally I would much rather see better enforcement of camera abuse. People are liars. Cameras catch them in their lies. I know too many people who have been in, for example, car accidents and both parties say the other was at fault. What is wrong with having an impartial view of those events? Panning those same cameras to look through a bedroom window, well, that is something completely different. The issue is not the cameras but the people controlling them.

          The cash cow argument is used all the time, and doesn't hold water for me. So what if they make money too??? You still got busted breaking the law !!! With your logic why do we fine ANYONE for anything? If you break the law there has to be some pain involved otherwise we degrade into anarchy.

          Regarding "people believe they are being ripped off"... which people? The ones getting caught !!??? LOL... yeah, I am sure they do feel it is "unfair" and they are "being ripped off". DON"T BREAK THE LAW DUFUS !!

          Your statement "attempt to see the opposition's point" is rather ironic I think !!! This is a fairly pleasant discussion, but the first thing YOU say is basically 'If you don't agree with me then I don't want to talk to you' !! OK, whatever. I do think the analogy is fairly good. not perfect, but if you actually think for a little, covers the salient points I was trying to make.

          And WTF is the "party line" or "an astroturfer"??? I am just someone who can't understand why we all complain about crime, social security, the weather etc... expecting someone else to fix it but when something, anything catches us in a 'minor' incursion it is all of a sudden a civil liberties invasion. If this is 'party line' then so be it.

          Finally, regarding "pay attention to people"... please practice what you preach. All I really said here is that I find it amazing that people are complaining about getting caught breaking the law, somehow believing that the methodology of HOW they got caught should have any bearing at all on the matter. This is yet another philosophical discussion though.


      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Slow down a bit

        If speeding cameras were indeed (a) reducing accidents and (b) were solely placed at locations where they would indeed contribute to safety instead of the liquidity of the relevant owners you'd be right.

        However, speed is far from the only issue on the road. IMHO there are more accidents caused by idiots blocking traffic by hanging on the wrong lane and "creative lane use" (idiots "undertaking" and changing lanes at speeds that differ sometimes more than 20 mph with the surrounding traffic), yet the cameras along the road seem not able to record and grab these people by the goolies.

        Oh, and that report that claimed speed cameras reduced fatalities? Let me just say that not all is well with that report, yet it is quoted everywhere.. If a report comes to a logic defying conclusion and over 50% of it is dedicated to how the conclusion was calculated you're looking at something that warrants a better look.

        In short, people have no problem with the speed - they have a problem with the abuse of the law in the name of profit. It does two things: it creates resentment and, most vitally, it breeds disrespect for the law and its original purpose. Remarkably similar result with privacy laws.. Lose-lose scenario, but it makes money..

      3. laird cummings


        @AC, in RE: Radar Detectors:

        When a radar detector detects radar, what does the driver do?

        Slow down, obviously.


        And isn't that supposed to be the entire point of traffic enforcement of speed zones..? To get people to drive at a safe speed? So isn't the radar detector, in fact, aiding in enforcement and safety? What's your problem with them, then?

        Or is it... That speed zones are actually supposed to be stealth taxes on motorists, and radar detectors are getting in the way of revenues..? Hmm? If that's the real truth, why don't the councils say so..?

        Either the council wants folks nice and safe, or they want to raid your pockets, and are lying about it. Seems to me you've got yourself an untenable position .

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re; Ahem

          If they slowed down for more than the 10 seconds it takes to not get caught, then I would agree. But they then speed up again. All this does is cause a sudden change in the flow, which is more dangerous than simply driving fast but smooth.

          Speed zones themselves are a waste of time for exactly the same reason.

          If you want to call getting caught and having to pay a fine a stealth tax, then knock yourself out. I don't think there is really anything stealth about it though. You know if you speed and get caught there is a fine !!!

          When you say "got yourself an untenable position" are you talking to me? If so, how? I am not sure what you mean.

          So, you would be quite happy if the councils simply said "we are using speed cameras to catch you breaking the law and to make some money in the process" ? If so, then it sounds like you don't really have an issue with the laws/cameras etc... but with the way they are presented to you?

      4. Goat Jam

        Because Mr Idiot AC

        Radar speed traps are, more often than not, used to detect and fine drivers who are doing trivial amounts over the speed limit as a revenue raising method. If police and councils did more to actually detect and fine idiot drivers who are driving dangerously instead of sending out hundreds and thousands of automated fines for trivial "offences" then perhaps people would be more accepting of these robocop income generators.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ahhhh OK, you only broke the law a little bit, so that is OK then !!!

          OK, perhaps a little over the top, but you see my point???

      5. Intractable Potsherd

        OK, I don't really have time for this ...

        ... but here goes. A radar detector is no different from the databases of cameras - they merely inform the driver of an area which the local council or whoever have decided is dangerous enough to warrant a speed camera being put up. This gives advance warning of an upcoming problem - how can you possibly be against that? Equally, they give advance notice of mobile cameras which are sited in areas where there are known to be problems with speeding, perhaps due to the road design (30mph dual carriageway with poor speed signage, for instance), and therefore remind people of the speed limit (which many satnavs do anyway). In both instances, it means that accidents are avoided, since people do not suddenly jump on the brakes when they see the camera. How can you be against that?

        Regarding speed and other infractions - well, just see any of my other posts here on the same topic. Black-letter law, and the numpties like you that advocate it, is an affront to everything this country has ever stood for.

        I suspect you are just a troll, and I'm regretting answering you already.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re : OK, I don't really have time for this ...

          So, because I have an opinion different to yours, which I though I had actually expressed in a fairly civil manner, I am a troll ??!!! OK.

          I agree that the speed camera databases are no different. I think they cause exactly the same issues as radar detectors which is drivers suddenly slowing down for the 10 seconds necessary to not get caught, then speed up again to continue breaking the law.

          You logic in "local council or whoever have decided is dangerous enough to warrant a speed camera being put up" is so wildly flawed it is laughable !!! THE SPEED LIMIT IS WHAT DOES THIS. The cameras are there because idiots decide that they don't want to abide by either the law nor the council's prior warning. Don't try and justify your own law breaking by saying signs are badly visible !!!

          I agree 100% with sat navs warning you about your speed. What is your point here? Warning about speed cameras is completely the opposite !!!

          Warning people about speed cameras certainly does NOT mean accidents are avoided since this MAKES people jump on their breaks.

          Just what makes me a troll or numptie ??? You are basically saying that just because I don't believe you should be warned that you are about to get caught breaking the law I am somehow anti British !!! Now YOU are being a numptie !!!

          What I DO believe is that if you are breaking the law you should pay the fine? How is this an affront to everything this country has ever stood for ???? Idiot.

          1. Intractable Potsherd


            I honestly wasn't sure whether you were troll, which I why I answered (if I was sure, I wouldn't have bothered). You clearly aren't, since you have replied. It doesn't change my opinion of you, though.

            Yes, I do honestly believe that anyone who stands behind black letter law has no clue about the history of English law, or why we are far better off with a measured, proportionate response to any infractions. Since you seem to be a "black letter lawyer", to me, means that you do not support what this country has (or at least used to) stand for, and that you are a numptie, and an idiot. Legal absolutists are a plague on society as bad as those who treat the law with contempt.

            Regarding people not being warned about potentially law-breaking activity - how far do you want to take that? Is publishing them alright? If yes, what about guides specifically stating laws that may apply to the activity - say, in this case, the Highway Code? What about the speed limit signs? Or are you just saying that people should not arm themselves with the relevant ability to remind themselves.

            Your argument that databases of clearly visible street furniture should be banned is beyond laughable, especially since, somewhere else, you claim that satnavs warning the driver about exceeding a posted speed-limit is OK.

            Regarding speeding - I have posted on here so many times. If you are interested, the posts are archived. Needless to say, in short, the argument goes that speed is the cause of *all* accidents, and, if you agree that emergency services should be allowed to go over a speed limit, you have immediately undermined the argument about "speeding" being an absolute crime to be punished without mercy.

            Oh, and don't assume that I break the laws regarding speed-limits just because I am against the absolutist argument, and I won't assume that you are one of those arrogant bastards that drive as if they own the road because they are doing the speed limit.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Careful, Pen-y-gors...

      ... remember Stuart Harding who got a fine and a driving ban for putting up a sign warning about a speed trap! See

  13. Pie

    I thought camera vans/cars had to park legally?

    It seemed to be on double yellow lines, also the side windows seemed very dark...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, a coward

    "enforce both moving traffic contraventions and parking contraventions through the capture of moving images"

    What exactly is the problem with this? As the saying goes "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime".

    If drivers are unable to resist jumping red lights, sitting in box junctions, abusing cycle advance areas and parking where they shouldn't then fine them to high heaven. The law abiding majority can rest happy that their council tax is lower and more people are kept in paid employment by another tax on the stupid.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Not only a coward...

      ... but a snivelling one at that. Just because it is a law does not make it right (and I am a lawyer).

  15. Gordon861


    These rides started off as a Saturday event and have now expanded to any day people are free. We had a single rider out on Monday who must have saved motorists over £1000 in fines.

    There is now a Twitter feed that we update with locations as we find them and people can let us know where the cameras are easily.

    We are also starting to expand operations outside Westminster due to the fact that the Westminster cars have developed a habit of running back to base when we turn up.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Bravo, Gordon ...

      ... have one on me (when you aren't riding, obviously!)

  16. Tron Silver badge


    ...if they did generate revenue, they could be reducing local council tax bills at the expense of the people who are holding you up by driving and parking badly.

    The mantra that 'all road use law enforcement is bad' is ridiculous. The whole point of this is to make life a little easier and safer for those who can be naffed to drive legally at the expense of those who can't tell the difference between reality and their Playstation.

    Nobody minds when burglars get fined, but a guy breaking the law in a car is more likely to kill or injure you or a member of your family than a guy breaking the law by nicking your telly when you are out.

    Grow up, pass puberty and lose the 'Top Gear' mentality.

    1. Daniel 4


      "Nobody minds when burglars get fined, but a guy breaking the law in a car is more likely to kill or injure you or a member of your family than a guy breaking the law by nicking your telly when you are out."

      Another poor analogy. A guy following the law (or doing his absolute best) in his car is more likely to kill or injure you than a burglar breaking into your home. It only follows that a person driving illegally is also more likely to kill or injure you.

      Grow up, pass basic logic and take a stats course.


  17. PirateSlayer


    I love this idea...but find it ironic that the car is parked on double yellows.

    I hope they roll this out nationwide. As a cyclist, I am fed up with ignorant morons parking on bus stops, double yellows, main roads, cycle lanes, bus lanes, pavements and curbs. The insulting thing is they put on their hazards as if this somehow makes them invisible or makes their actions acceptable.

    Why is it that this is the only crime where people waffle on about making money? Stop breaking the law! Take responsibily for your anti social actions.

    1. The First Dave


      I trust that was _meant_ to be ironic - a cyclist complaining about inattention to the rules of the road!! (Or are you one of the 15% or so that do?)

      1. PirateSlayer
        Thumb Down


        ...well, I am certainly one of the 15% that do.

        The problem with your argument Dave 1, is that if I hit a pram with my bike I am more likely to be killed and the baby in the pram is likely not to be. Despite what OAPs (who drive in a disgracefully dangerous fashion) might say.

        Lets see what happens when the driver of the tonnage of metal that can go a little bit faster does to a pedestrian, cyclist, granny, pram etc.

        My argument is with the people who cause safety hazards (double yellows DO serve a purpose) and the slack, often non existent punishing of such acts. When such acts are punished, I am glad.

        Just don't drive like a tosser...where does this sense of entitlement to break the law come from?!!

        Bikes VS cars is a fail weighs a lot of tons, the other is a minor annoyance...lets look at the stats for people killed by cyclists compared to motorists and see where we stand.

        1. The BigYin


          "is that if I hit a pram with my bike I am more likely to be killed and the baby in the pram is likely not to be"

          Huh? Given that you are fully grown adult, I reckon you will be nursing cuts and bruises (I also assume you wear a helmet). Given hat a baby is not really up to dealing with blunt-force trauma, it is most likely to come off worst. 80+kg Vs 5~kgs? No contest really

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me...

    or does the window tint at 2:00 look illegally dark...?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    15 ft?

    I'm guessing he forgot to revert from the scale he uses at home.

    AC as I don't publicly want be seen displaying contempt towards a public servant.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As funny as this is...

    ... the problem remains that CCTV cameras are massively overused and that abuse, varying from peeping operators to using the images for petty fines that are clearly not in the original scope, does occur and will only increase with increasing CCTV deployment.

    There are no good rules for disseminating and no mechanisms for ensuring the technology won't be abused except official say-so and the pretty(?) face of the operator. And I think that ought to change.

    To start, I'd think of something like a simple rule saying you can only use the images for what you say you will use them for, and you say that by, say, putting a plaquard on the streets explaining /that/ there are cameras and /what/ they are for.

    Storage? Encrypted only, for a specificly limited and posted time, and decrypting only with a judge-signed warrant. There's no reason why you couldn't encrypt such that you need the signed digital warrant as the decryption key. Now for a way to ensure that the stored stuff really does go inaccessible after the cut-off, even for law enforcement unless they've taken copies using another court warrant.

    I mean, if you're going to "go digital", you might as well set it up such that it really only works the way we've decided it should, and to discourage feature creep as much as possible. For feature creep means lack of integrity. And lack of integrity I find inexcusable in government.

  21. Neil Lewis

    Well done, chaps!

    These 'scamera' cars have been popular with several councils, who have a habit of introducing new restrictions and then placing these cars so as to catch motorists who haven't noticed the changes. One such scam involved making a popular left turn illegal during the rush hour. Naturally, the council had put a small notice in the local 'paper about it, but of course most motorists don't live in the borough. The one, tiny sign relating to the change was more or less hidden behind a tree on the approach road. I believe several hundred 'offenders' were caught in the first few days alone. Was it for safety? Not likely, since the road in question has not been known for incidents. In fact this measure forced more traffic onto roads passing closer to local schools. To ease congestion? Nope. The effect was quite the opposite. You can draw your own conclusions.

  22. Magnus_Pym

    Personal freedom, public menace

    It makes me angry that some people seam to think that speed limits are a bad thing and without traffic wardens there would be no problem finding a parking spot. Without traffic offences we couldn't drive anywhere due triple parking outside every news agent and corner shop as each member of population 'just nips in' or road closures due to dead boy (and girl) racers whose ego is far greater than ability.

    I, for one, calls for greater road control. More speed cameras, more parking control. More of everything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I too call for greater road control

      Get all the fecking eejits off the road who seem to think the National Speed Limit is 45mph - or who sit on the outside (or middle) lane of the Motorway doing 65mph - or who seem to be too scared to drive after dark.

      I'll stop speeding on national limits when those feckers stop slowing me down.

      ... weirdly I don't speed in urban areas.


      I, for one, calls for greater road control. More speed cameras, more parking control. More of everything.


      I simply call for LESS - less idiots on the roads of all ilks.

      1. Magnus_Pym

        National Speed limit applies

        I agree that driving too slow on a motorway is a menace as are lorries that attempt to overtake one another with a 0.01 mph speed difference. It's just a rolling road block. In general the speed limit is a good cruising speed to aim for on open roads. Speeding on Motorways makes very little difference to the total journey time. However if you attempted to drive at 60mph on the country roads round here you would be in the fields within half a mile unless your name is Colin Mcrae.

        The biggest problem is that if you remove the restrictions you get more idiots not less. More idiots cause more bunching on the motorways as other drivers allow bigger margins for error when they notice an idiot approaching. More bunching means slower average speeds.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          "Speeding on Motorways makes very little difference to the total journey time."

          Anyway, whether or not speeding will cut an amount of time from your journey depends on:

          a) How much you speed by, and;

          b) Your journey time.

          The longer the journey and the higher your speed the more time you'll take off your journey compared to someone who does exactly the same journey at a lower speed. Whether you think the resulting time makes 'very little difference' would, I suggest, be down to individual judgement.

          "More idiots cause more bunching on the motorways as other drivers allow bigger margins for error when they notice an idiot approaching."

          You don't drive on the M62 or M1 much, do you?

          Car overtaking on the inside = smaller gaps as people in the outside lane bunch up to prevent undertaking-car from queue-jumping. This situation rarely reduces the average speed of traffic in the outside lane. The only time I've seen this kind of bunching reduce traffic speeds is when someone doing considerably less than the average for a given lane enters the lane in order to overtake.

          The kinds of things which tend to reduce traffic speeds are:

          1) Too many people on the roads;

          2) Accidents/incidents/breakdowns (rubberneckers, blocked lanes);

          3) Rolling road-blocks (vehicles overtaking other vehicles very slowly);

          It's the last kind that really get my goat because you end up with all the traffic in the outside lane overtaking someone who's a mile or more away while the inside and middle lanes stand empty (or contain traffic unable to enter the outside lane because noone will let them in).

          The only thing I've seen that's gone some way towards relieving this situation (of rolling road-blocks) were "Keep Left Unless Overtaking" matrix signs displayed last summer during the evenings on the M1. Undertaking some people will cause them to speed up as they fight not to lose 'their' space in the outside lane (even when they're not overtaking anyone) but it's risky and illegal.

  23. Rogerborg

    Some clarifications

    The Council may run a couple of cars of their own, but the $camera cars actually being "assisted" are run by NSL, a strictly for-profit private business contracted by WCC but not subject to anything as inconvenient as FOI requests.

    The NSL vehicles are teeny Smart / IQ cars with small periscopes and minimal signage. Their favourite ploy is to hide behind other vehicles near badly signed junctions and churn out £60 PCNs to confused motorists who turn the wrong way. On Saturday, one of them was caught sitting at a "no right turn" junction that had a temporary sign up directing all traffic to, yes, turn right. Your guess is as good as mine as to which way you're supposed to go to avoid a PCN, if there even was a correct answer.

    They DO NOT monitor criminal offences like speeding, mobile phone use, or seatbelt infractions, although their operators will happily lie through their teeth about that. They also regularly abandon their vehicles on double yellows or resident's bays while they go and buy lunch with the proceeds of their muggings.

    Since WCC's stated goal is "100% compliance with no penalties", there's really not a lot they can say about bikers alerting traffic to the presence of the $camera cars and directing them at junctions so that they avoid PCNs.

    Curiously, the NSL cars don't seem to see is this way, and usually take off like a shot when the bikers arrive to assist them. Initially, the NSL crews blubbed to the rozzers about being assisted: the response was along the lines of "Point out anything illegal and we'll take an interest", followed by a sotto vocce "Good luck, lads, ride safe" to the bikers.

    The current NSL tactic is to try to lose their escorts by speeding and jumping red lights - what a sterling contribution to road safety!

    Anyway, it's all great fun, and you can follow the larks on twitter at normally on Wednesdays and Saturdays - sightings of $scamera cars always welcome.

  24. Miffo

    Bikes more visible than cars logic

    Odd - most stuff you hear is about how hard it is to spot motorbikes compared to cars! :-)

    If these guys want to help the community perhaps they could check out too.

    1. dr2chase

      And perhaps people will look for them a little harder now

      If the motorbikes are pointing out CCTV and traffic cameras, perhaps drivers will pay more attention to motorcycles, right?

  25. The Cube
    Thumb Up

    Three cheers indeed

    Great to see the British for once being a bit more french and telling the bunch of bungling crooks in government "f**k you I won't do what you tell me" (perhaps a better soundtrack for their next film?

    As for the length of the camera pole that should be obvious, just like the little tinpot SS wannabes who work for the council the engorgement of the camera pole is directly linked to the number of times the camera has managed to forcibly apply Westminster council's world view on its victims. Go on councillors, admit it, enforcing petty regulations gives you wood.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Keep it up!

    If this keeps motor bikes out of ASL's then I'm all for it.

  27. Owen Carter


    Yeah.. I'm sure every biker (or lapsed ones like me, done my 250Kmiles on 2 wheels thanks..) will just welcome this.

    One dead friend, one who lost the left side of his body. Both done by people who did not slow down or stop when they should have. Because to them their 'right' to charge along the road outweighed any other rights any other uses have. Neither appeared mentally capable after the events of comprehending what they had done; faced with police, magistrates and other road users telling them they were wrong the simply repeated the weaseley excuses passed by their defence lawyers and then claimed it was unfair when these were rejected and (far too low) punishments handed out.

    Basically these 'bikers' are an embarrassment to me.

    What the council should do is get some cyclists and pedestrians to surround and challenge these 'hero' bikers.. video that (and their reaction to criticism) and put it on youtube.

    1. Gordon861

      Missing the Point

      Owen - I think you are missing the point of these cars.

      These cars do not detect or stop dangerous actions by any road users, if they did we'd leave them alone. These cars are being used as a more efficent way of collecting parking fines and fines from other ambigous road signs. Westminster Council have a history of issuing tickets even when they know that the ticket is unenforceable if challanged, they ignore government rules/guidance on placement of road signs in the hope that people will be caught out and just pay up.

      When the law was changed to allow CCTV enforcement of parking regulations it was done on the understanding tat it was only used where it wasn't safe or practical to do so by a man on foot traditional parking attendent.

      Most pedestrians and cyclists don't have a problem with us doing what we are doing in relation to these cars, take a look at a few of the videos

      If these cars were being used to aid Road Safety we would not be doing anything to them but they are in truth just mobile money printers for Westminster.

      Re. the Police

      We have had a number of discussions with the police about our activities and they are perfectly happy with us following these cars and what we are doing.

      This is just another extension of our fight against Westminster Council and will continue, along with our protests every Wednesday at Trafalgar Square. If coming into Westminster on a Wednesday bring a packed lunch, you may be a little while.

      1. Owen Carter

        Thanks for the clarification!

        I'd already read some other comments here along these lines; yes, if they are true then a valuable point is being made. But, I don't live in the big smoke so only have your word for it really; and that of other interested parties trying to justify their actions.. And as little as I distrust Westminster council (and lord knows; there is a LOT to distrust there) I'm not 100% convinced of the immense 'rightness' of your cause.. sorry, it's too self-serving. Reminds me of an anti-pedo mob beating up a paedatrician.

        So from your reply I assume you would support the use of hidden cameras to catch genuine hazardous road use (jumping reds; big speed in urban areas; deliberate threatening driving, etc.. the things we would agree are killers and all experience very occasionally..) whilst being against the showboating and pure revenue-oriented approach typified by this;

        You see, I've got to the point where I want tech to be used, HARD, against the really dangerous pricks on the roads.. Some people I care about cycle every day. But I conversely don't want a 'tracker state' where NO infraction is tolerated either;

        So to be honest having a relatively open enforcement regime (a few cameras and police about at all times to pick out the dickprats and make the rest of us think about what we are doing) is the best way to go.

        Is that what you want? or is the real agenda a 'Libertarianism of the roads', cos if so the most antisocial driver I recently met had a hummer and a big wad. He'd laugh like a drain at the thought that 'scum bikers' had been duped into helping clear his path to total road supremacy.


        Oh yeah.. and I'm one of those dickprats who needed sorting out when I was younger; when I got my driving licence back I had, remarkably, slowed down.

      2. laird cummings

        A view from across the pond

        @ Gordon861, in RE: Re: the Police.

        Most excellent.

        Over here, people can be, and sometimes are, busted for warning other motorists of speed traps and other enforcement ambuscades. They call it "Interfering with an officer in the performance of his duties" or sometimes just simply as "Obstructing Justice." Of course, we don't often have civilian contract agencies performing enforcement duties, either...

        Nice to know your officers are equipped with a sense of humor, and honor.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      You seem to be missing the point of this exercise.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: !hero

      An hero..... you should seriously consider it.

  28. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Please hide the cameras ...

    Hide these CCTV cameras I say ... behind massive signs which announce their presence.

    After all it's prevention and safety we're after not fining people for breaking the law, isn't it ?

    Ask yourself this; how many motorists did the bikers prevent speeding and how many the CCTV car ? Seem the bikers do a better job than the cars, so well done on all counts.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Well, if they slowed down all the time, yes, but... they don't

      This is a great theory, but unfortunately people only follow the rules when they think they will get caught breaking them.

      If drivers saw the bikers and thought "OK, I will abide by the law now and forever", I would agree with you, but they don't. As soon as they are past the 'threat' they go back to their old ways.

      If you believe that you might be caught breaking the law at any time, then you are more likely to follow the law all the time, not just when someone warns you you might get caught, so I agree... hide the cameras.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A Smart car? With a four (or possibly fifteen) foot camera pole on the roof? With their reputation? What were they thinking?

    The Smart had some serious stability problems when first launched (like the Merc A class) and needed some serious modifications to stop it toppling over (like the Merc A class). The "stability system" is basically just a tweak that makes the car understeer like a bugger so it can't cornus er hard enough to flip over. This works when the car is normally loaded, but will it work with that extra weight mounted nice and high? How long before one of these cars has to perform the famous elk manoeuvre and tips over like Clarkson in a Reliant Robin?

    Now the question here is if they are so interested in road safety why are they using what seems to be a potentially dangerous vehicle to improve road safety?

    If they are so interested in road safety and reducing congestion why are they parking on double yellow lines? I don't care if they are parking legally, parking on yellows will cause an obsctuction which people will have to avoid. This is potentially unsafe and will definitely cause congestion.

    If moving traffic offences are a matter for the police why are the council so keen to be enforcers in this area?

    On last issue. If they are so sure they're in the right, why run away?

  30. mmm mmm


    What a twat. Do you even know where Westminster is?

  31. Magnus_Pym

    What I don't understand...

    ... Is why, If they are such a money spinner, did the government cancel speed camera projects to save money<

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Do bit of reseach.

      1. See how speed cameras are actually funded.


      Try Google or Bing for some research.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. JaitcH

    They could disguise them ...

    by painting Google on the outside so people think they are Street View cars.

  34. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    What a quality film..

    Awards to whoever made this one. I'd like to know whoever dreamt that up.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    $£¢€ .....let's be clear about this

    how many ways are there to say what it's all about...

  36. Gordon861

    Evening Standard

    One of our videos got picked up by the Evening Standard today

This topic is closed for new posts.