Nearly 300 of London's ULEZ cameras sabotaged ahead of expansion, police say

1808 ULEZ - Met Police/PA
The Met Police have shared an image of a suspected ULEZ saboteur. Credit: Met Police/PA

Nearly 300 crimes including criminal damage and theft have been carried out against enforcement cameras for London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), police have said.

Saboteurs describing themselves as "Blade Runners" have been cutting the devices' wires or completely removing them in protest against an upcoming expansion of the scheme, which charges.

Cases have been so frequent that Transport for London (TfL) have started using "armoured" cameras in an attempt to halt a growing wave of attacks.

The ULEZ zone, which sees drivers of non-compliant vehicles being hit with an emissions based charge, will extend to the whole of the capital from August 29, with some 2,750 cameras being installed as a result. The Metropolitan Police launched an operation in April after TFL reported criminal damage to, and theft of, cameras. The force said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to ULEZ cameras as of August 1.

Police are looking for this man and are appealing for help. Credit: Met Police

This included 185 reports of cables being damaged, 164 cameras being stolen and 38 reports of cameras being obscured. Multiple offences can be linked to one camera, such as a cable being cut and then the camera being stolen. Commander Owain Richards of the Metropolitan Police said: “These are clearly unacceptable acts of criminality and we have a team of officers investigating and identifying those responsible. “We are providing a proportionate policing response, balancing these incidents against the wide range of operational demand and crime we must respond to across London. “We are working closely with Transport for London and – alongside our investigation into offences already committed – we are supporting them to identify new ways to prevent further cameras from being damaged or stolen.


“We are continually reviewing where we need to focus our efforts and we will continue to do that over the coming weeks to ensure we are providing the service Londoners expect from us.” Images emerged this week of ULEZ cameras and their wires being given extra protection, including through the use of black metal boxes. Scotland Yard released an image of a man they want to trace in connection with four camera offences in Hillingdon, Harrow and Uxbridge on June 17. Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or contact the force’s account on X (formerly known as Twitter), which is @MetCC.

Alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at the website.

The Conservatives’ campaigning against ULEZ expansion was widely credited to them holding on to Uxbridge in the recent by-election. Credit: PA

In May, Joseph Nicolls, 42, of Sidcup, southeast London, was charged in relation to damaging ULEZ cameras. Vehicles that do not meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a £12.50 daily fee when used in the Ulez zone, or face a fine. TfL says nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day comply with the Ulez standards. Figures obtained by the RAC show more than 690,000 licensed cars in the whole of London are likely to be non-compliant.

This does not take into account other types of vehicles or those which enter London from neighbouring counties. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has previously described his decision to expand the Ulez area as “very difficult” but insisted it would “see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air”.

However the scheme's expansion has attracted plenty of kickback, with a minicab driver going on hunger strike, and a group of motorcyclists set to ride together on the M25 on Sunday in protest.

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