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A quarter of new Ulez cameras 'damaged or stolen' after scheme expands

The controversial expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) came into effect this week.

Harefield, London Borough of Hillingdon, UK. 30th August, 2023. A number of newly installed Ultra Low Emission Zone cameras and signs in Harefield in the London Borough of Hillingdon have been vandalised by vigilantes. The cameras have been sprayed over with paint or had stickers put across the camera lens. The new extended ULEZ scheme became operational across all outer London Borough from yesterday. The extended ULEZ zones have been put in place by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London. Those driving into ULEZ zones will either have to have a ULEZ compliant vehicle or pay £12.50 e
A damaged camera in Greater London. (Alamy) (Maureen McLean)

A quarter of all new Ulez cameras in the expanded London zone have already been damaged or are missing, according to new data.

The controversial expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) came into effect this week and now covers suburban areas.

Motorists who drive in Greater London in a vehicle that does not meet minimum emission standards must pay a £12.50 daily fee or risk a fine.

But at least 450 of the 1,762 new cameras meant to monitor the zone are either missing or have been damaged, a crowd-sourced map suggests.

Watch: Hundreds of attacks on ULEZ cameras recorded by police

Around 20% of the cameras are currently not functioning in the whole of Ulez but the situation is worse in outer London, where 25% of cameras are out of action, according to Julie's Ulez Map.

The damaged cameras are mainly located in the south and south-east areas of London, with high rates of vandalism reported in Bromley, Lewisham, Sutton, and Bexley.

It was previously revealed, Transport for London (TfL) was facing a major challenge as a group of protesters who were sabotaging the cameras.

The devices have been vandalized in various ways, including removal, wire-cutting, paint-spraying, and tearing down by people who call themselves "blade runners".

Read more: Ulez zone expanded: Map shows where you will get charged

The Metropolitan Police said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to the cameras as of 1 August and released an image of a suspect.

On Wednesday, the Met said in “recent weeks there has been an increase in criminal damage and theft to Ulez cameras and infrastructure”.

It added there were currently hundreds of reports of criminal damage being investigated.

Read more: Ulez: The areas neighbouring London that won’t warn you about £12.50 fine

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: A digital display board warns drivers of the introduction of the new boundary for the LEZ and ULEZ expansion on August 29, 2023 in London, England. August 29 is the first day of the London-wide Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion to all of Greater London, a policy designed to reduce air pollution by imposing charges on drivers of older, more polluting vehicles. The new rules have sparked political backlash in some parts of London and neighbouring counties. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The controversial expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) came into effect this week. (Getty) (Leon Neal via Getty Images)

It follows The Daily Mail's publication of quotes from Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith, stating that he would be "happy" for his constituents to "cement up the cameras or put plastic bags over them".

This was in response to his belief that his constituents were facing an unwelcome imposition, having been misled about the situation.

However, Sir Iain later clarified to the Evening Standard that he "does not condone law breaking of any kind".

TfL said in a statement: "Vandalism on our network is unacceptable and all incidents are reported to the police for investigation.

"Criminal damage to Ulez cameras puts the perpetrators at risk of prosecution and life-changing injuries, while simultaneously risking the safety of the public.

"Camera vandalism will not stop the Ulez operating London-wide. We have an extensive camera network which is sufficient to support the effective operation of the scheme.

"Anyone driving a non-compliant vehicle within the expanded zone will be detected, and we advise everyone to check whether their vehicle is compliant and to consider the various support that is available."