Quarter of all Ulez cameras in expanded zone vandalised, data analysis suggests

The charity managing Hampton Court Palace is advising visitors how to avoid ultra-low emission zone enforcement cameras (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
The charity managing Hampton Court Palace is advising visitors how to avoid ultra-low emission zone enforcement cameras (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Vandals have targeted at least a quarter of all new Ulez cameras in outer London, a data analysis has suggested.

At least 450 of the 1762 cameras in the newly-expanded zone are damaged or missing, according to Julie’s Ulez Map, which logs camera locations.

An analysis by the Telegraph newspaper of the data found that one in four cameras across the expanded zone have been targeted, while six outer London boroughs have seen more than a third of their cameras affected.

When the whole of Greater London is considered, the map reports around one in five cameras are out of action, with 497 of 2,692 recorded cameras affected.

Bromley appeared to be the worst affected borough, with the unofficial data recording that 100 of its 120 cameras were missing or damaged.

Other boroughs where vandals appeared to have targeted high numbers of the cameras include Lewisham, Sutton and Bexley.

Anti-Ulez protesters outside Downing Street (Getty Images)
Anti-Ulez protesters outside Downing Street (Getty Images)

It is the latest sign of the backlash to Sadiq Khan’s controversial decision to expand the Ultra Low Emissions Zone on Tuesday to cover all of Greater London.

The Met Police on Friday said from April 1 to the end of August, it had recorded 510 crimes relating to the cameras.

This includes approximately 159 reports of cameras being stolen and 351 cameras being damaged, although officers said a crime report can include multiple offences.

The expanded zone has left those driving a non-compliant car - typically those which are older and more polluting - in outer London facing a daily £12.50 charge.

In response to criticism, City Hall points to the fact most cars are compliant, and its £160m scrappage scheme to help affected Londoners transition vehicles.

But the expansion has become deeply politicised.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticised the policy as “hitting working families,” while even some in Mr Khan’s party have hit out at it, attributing it as the cause of Labour’s failure to win the Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary by-election last month.

Mr Khan’s mayoral opponent, Tory candidate Susan Hall, has pledged to scrap the expansion “on day one”, if she takes office.

Ulez Camera in Elmers End, south east London (Elliot Wagland)
Ulez Camera in Elmers End, south east London (Elliot Wagland)

However, Mr Khan, who is seeking a third term, has insisted that next year’s election will not be a “referendum” on Ulez, and has said he will be judged across a number of issues, including affordable housing.

Protesters styling themselves as ‘Blade Runners’ have in recent weeks stepped up their efforts to cut wires from the cameras, tear them down or spray them with paint.

A TfL spokesperson said that vandalism would not hamper its efforts to detect non-compliant cars.

“Vandalism on our network is unacceptable and all incidents are reported to the police for investigation,” said the spokesperson.

“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.”

The total cost to TfL of the damaged cameras is not clear, as it has refused to release the figures, citing commercial confidentiality.