CCTV mobile enforcement vehicles (MEVs) are much abused by local authorities and this is greatly resented by the motoring public. One industrious organisation, the ‘NoToMob’, which stands against revenue-driven enforcement, continues to be successfully active in exposing widespread local authority misuse of MEVs particularly in the London boroughs. They operate at personal expense and always by lawful means to monitor council wrongdoings in their CCTV enforcement.
MEVs are being increasingly introduced outside London, sometimes for the admitted reason of generating an increased income from penalty charges. Many local authorities use ‘road safety’ speciously to justify their MEV programmes whilst revenue generation seems to be the principal motivation, something that the courts have made clear is not a legitimate purpose of parking and traffic enforcement.
The London Borough of Richmond on Thames, which used MEVs for over three years, has now removed them from their streets, despite an acknowledged reduction in penalty income that will result. This council has decided that, in most cases, they are an inappropriate form of parking enforcement. NMAG compliments this authority for its shining example of responsible behaviour which will encourage respect from the motoring public.
Reckless parking by Medway Council MEV immediately ahead of a zebra crossing when used by school children showing total contempt for the motoring public and interfering with the flow of traffic
The most blatant abuse of MEV enforcement, extensively seen in London boroughs, is the parking of MEVs on yellow lines and at other places and times where parking is prohibited while covertly engaged in spying on wrongly-parked vehicles nearby for the purpose of secretly issuing PCNs. MEVs in the City of Westminster have been seen parked entirely on footways causing major obstruction to pedestrians while their so-called ‘civil enforcement officers’ (CEOs) are dining in a café opposite. MEVs also wait illegally and dangerously on zebra crossing approaches and at clearway bus stops where stopping is prohibited.
MEVs also knowingly travel through red traffic lights and the wrong way down one-way streets but their enforcement authorities do nothing about it even when presented with the evidence. MEVs are also seen to be using bus lanes with apparent impunity.
NMAG doesn’t see why the motoring public should care about the parking restrictions of these misbehaving authorities who demonstrate their contempt for the law, safety, and their own parking restrictions.
Some local authorities claim to have written exemptions into their bye-law traffic orders that purport to enable their MEVs to park where and when they choose in disregard of the authority’s parking restrictions. Given that local authorities are usually operating their MEVs contrary to the Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance we do not see how penalising motorists by such behaviour could be considered proper enforcement conduct.
In the Traffic Penalty Tribunal Adjudicators’ Report 2008-2010 the Chief Adjudicator for England & Wales reported some councils having claimed that:
“the Traffic Management Act provides an exemption from parking restrictions for a CCTV vehicle.”
She corrected this error:
“This is not the case – there are NO provisions in the TMA or any of its regulations that create exemptions to parking restrictions in TROs for vehicles engaged in camera enforcement.”
More reckless and contemptible parking by a Westminster Council MEV. Parked on no-stopping-anytime red lines, obscuring an important directional road marking, at a dropped kerb and with wheels on the footway.
One arrogant (and ignorant) London borough, when challenged on this basis about the lawfulness of the MEV exemption in their traffic order, argued that the Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal has jurisdiction only outside London where her views do not apply!
NMAG’s view is that if an authority purports it to be permissible for their MEVs to wait anywhere where a parking restriction is in operation that arguably proves there to be no justification for these restrictions in their traffic order. If it is safe, and with no hindrance to traffic flow for an MEV to park at a given place it must be similarly acceptable for any driver to do the same. If an enforcement authority doesn’t agree with that elementary reasoning it is doubtful that they are a fit organisation to be conducting parking enforcement. This is a perfect example of the double standards that are rife throughout the whole sphere of civil parking enforcement and one which causes justified resentment on the part of the motoring public and contempt for such enforcement authorities.
Official disapprovals of MEV enforcement
The primary objective of parking enforcement is to encourage compliance with parking restrictions and to AVOID contraventions where it may be possible. It is not to allow contraventions to continue unhindered and issue a profitable PCN. MEVs issue PCNs regardless and do so without a driver knowing.
In at least one parking appeal decision the adjudicator rightly criticised the CEOs in an MEV for secretly issuing a PCN to a driver who had just parked in contravention of the rules, when they could have used their legs to walk over to the offending driver and moved him on so as not to incur an avoidable PCN.
Enforcement authorities routinely and wrongly disregard the Secretary of State's Statutory Guidance which states (at para. 48) that parking enforcement by means of CCTV
“should be used only where on-foot CEO enforcement is difficult, or sensitive, and is not practical”.
In other words, save for very exceptional cases, CCTV should not be used for parking enforcement.
Few people have correctly understood the statement in the Guidance. The use of the word ‘and’ means that whether or not CEO enforcement on-foot is difficult or sensitive is immaterial if it is nevertheless practical to enforce by on-foot CEO.
The Secretary of State has made it expressly clear that if parking enforcement on foot is practical (as it is in probably 95% of an enforcement area) CCTV enforcement should not be used there.
There is nothing to prevent a CEO touring the area in a vehicle, parking up and issuing PCNs on foot. Neither expedience nor the near certainty of increased issuing of PCNs when MEVs are used are valid considerations to justify the use of CCTV enforcement.
Despite being public authorities whose function is to serve their communities, many local authorities argue that the Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance is no more than ‘guidance’ which, they say, they are entitled to ignore. However, one London adjudicator commendably and correctly allowed an appeal because section 87 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 requires that enforcement authorities “must have regard” to the Guidance. The enforcement authority had failed to show that they had had regard to the Guidance and had failed to provide a reason why they chose not to comply with it.
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