'Improvised explosive device' used to destroy Sidcup ULEZ camera, police say

This isn't the first time a ULEZ camera has been damaged, but the use of an explosive device to destroy one in Sidcup is something detectives are taking very seriously, ITV London's Daniel Henry reports

Investigators believe an "improvised explosive device" was used to destroy a ULEZ camera in south-east London in an explosion that residents feeling scared and shaken.

Police were called to Willersley Avenue, Sidcup, shortly after 6.45pm following reports of a blast, which damaged nearby homes and vehicles.

While the incident is not being treated as terrorism, Counter Terrorism Command, which includes those with specialist expertise in explosives, are leading the investigation.

Christine Wright, who lives on the street, told ITV London how a bus had just passed when the explosion went off and that the driver was given oxygen in a fire engine. She said a car travelling behind the bus took some damage.

"It was a big explosion, they heard it from miles away. It was unbelievable, everybody came running out. It sounded like a bomb had exploded," she said.

"We'd seen the ULEZ camera go up about 12 o'clock in the afternoon. It wasn't there for long."

She said she had seen many videos online of people cutting down ULEZ cameras, but that this was the first she'd heard of one exploding.

"It's going to keep happening. Maybe they should not be put up in residential areas. The people are speaking, that's why they're going down.

"Somebody could have been killed last night if they'd been walking along then. It was dangerous."

Helia Sinclair, sounded shaken as she recalled the moment the explosion went off, describing it as being like something from a "war film".

Neighbours say the ULEZ camera was brought down around 90 minutes before the explosion. Credit: ITV London

She says the PVC on her son's three-year-old son's bedroom window had been shattered by the blast, leaving shrapnel scattered across the floor.

Describing how the ULEZ camera had been knocked down at around 5.15pm, Ms Sinclair added: "We couldn't tell from our Ring camera whether it was a car or an angle grinder - we've heard both.

"At 6.45pm there was a huge flash across my house's windows and a huge bang. I screamed 'bomb, bomb', on the phone to my aunt.

"I first thought it was on the roof of the house, so I jumped on the sofa and hunched myself, then I realised that nothing else was happening, but then all the sirens of the cars around us were going off."

Locals are concerned about how safe it is to put these cameras in residential areas. Credit: ITV London

She said her neighbour's van was completely destroyed, while a nearby porch was "completely shattered".

"Why on earth was a ULEZ camera out up on this road? It's a political issue in London having ULEZ so far into Zone 5. If you're going to fit one, fit one in a sensible place."

The Metropolitan Police, who attended the scene along with the London Fire Brigade, said no one was injured.

Watch: Helia Sinclair tells ITV London how she saw a huge flash from her window and how the ULEZ camera explosion shattered her three-year-old son's bedroom window

In a statement, Bexley Council said: "Whilst our position against the ULEZ expansion is clear we do not condone vandalism or criminal damage of any kind should this prove to be the cause of this incident."

A TfL spokesperson said: “We are working with the Met police to investigate the circumstances of this incident. Thankfully no-one was injured. We urge anyone with information to contact the police."

The Met Police said it is keeping an open mind as to whether or not there is a connection between the camera being cut down and the planting of the "low-sophistication improvised explosive device".

The force's Bexley area commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, said: “It is extremely concerning that an explosive device seems to have been deliberately placed in a public place.

"This could have very easily resulted in members of the public being very seriously injured.

“Because of the seriousness of this incident, we are making urgent enquiries to try and identify anyone involved, and officers with specialist expertise and capability from our Counter Terrorism Command are leading the investigation. “This was an extremely dangerous incident that could have resulted in innocent members of the public being injured or worse. If you have any information that could assist our investigation, then I would urge you to get in touch immediately.” Anyone with information that could assist with the investigation is urged to call 101 quoting CAD 5819/06DEC.

"Similarly anyone who sees anyone or anything suspicious by or on a ULEZ camera should not approach and should contact police," the force added.

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