Two protestors protesting about ULEZ cameras

More than 4,500 ULEZ camera vandalisations since March 2023

There have been more than 4,500 counts of vandalisation of ULEZ cameras in little over a year, according to data crowd-sourced by the minds behind one of Facebook’s biggest anti-ULEZ groups

With each camera believed to be worth up to £10,000, the total cost to TfL to repair the vandalism could be as high as £45m, with 4,536 cameras damaged.

TfL said they are not disclosing the costs incurred by camera vandalism to avoid giving further publicity to those engaging in dangerous acts, but that it is “significantly lower than £45m”.

According to data sourced by the activists working under the title of Julie’s map, Bexley, Bromley, Havering, Hillingdon, and Croydon have seen the most vandalism.

Bexley alone has seen 717 vandalisations since March 2023, with only half of cameras currently active.  

This comes as organised protests have also hindered TfL’s efforts to repair or replace cameras. 

Paul* a spokesperson for Julie’s map, the near-live crowd sourced online map which details the the condition and position of ULEZ cameras in London, told us that he is motivated to prevent the repairs because he felt aggrieved as an ex-tradesperson. 

He feels he was forced to retire when ULEZ’s expansion would have forced him to buy a new van in order to avoid fines for work related travel.

He said: “Normally, we know where they are going to be because they have to lodge a permit with the council to dig up the road.

“We turn up there, stand around where they wanna dig, and they go away.”

Paul claimed to know multiple people who are refusing to pay the fines they have been issued.

Paul’s protest is part of an extensive community, organised through Facebook and a network of localised WhatsApp groups.

The movement is often recognisable due to the use of inflatable dinosaur costumes.

MASS EXTINCTION: This protestor got pre-historic with her message

“The reason the dinosaurs are quite prolific in this movement is because Sadiq Khan wants to take us back to the age when cars will be extinct,” a lady in a pink dinosaur costume with a ‘Stop Ulez’ sign said at a protest in Twickenham.

The protest covered a roundabout in signs calling Sadiq Khan, who won re-election last week despite running against a number of vocally anti-ULEZ candidates, a ‘dictator’ and a ‘liar’.

Other signs depicted Khan with devil horns and denied the ‘toxic air lie’.

However, the motives of these activists have been questioned, with anti-ULEZ protest groups on Facebook featuring climate change denial and conspiracy theories.

“Maybe you do get sucked down a black hole a bit”, Paul said.

He told me about a post he had seen recently, where examples of apparent climate sensationalism were met with the tagline: “None of these ever happened. All that happened is they resulted in extra taxes.”

BLADERUNNER: A video posted on an anti-ULEZ Facebook group shows a Bladerunner vandalising an ULEZ camera

The other form of protest, the illegal vandalisation of the cameras, which is carried out by people referred to as ‘bladerunners’, is carried out by “lone creatures” according to Paul.

According to the data given to us by Julie’s map, the most visited cameras, a set of eight in Hillingdon, have been vandalised by bladerunners 27 times each.

All of the cameras which have been vandalised more than 10 times lie within the boundaries of the expanded ULEZ scheme, but outside of the borders of the zone before its August 2023 expansion.

More than half of the ULEZ cameras in Kingston-upon-Thames and Bromley are currently vandalised, 56% and 57% respectively, according to Julie’s map as of the 27th April.

The data suggest that there are currently 636 cameras which have been vandalised to the point at which they are not currently functioning.

This represents 18% of the 3455 cameras that Julie’s map show across Greater London.

Camden, Hackney, and Tower Hamlets are the only boroughs with no vandalised cameras.

The most popular way to vandalise the cameras has been to cover the lens with a sticker, but Paul said that there has been an increase in cameras which have had their power cabinets burnt out over the last few months.

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

“Camera damage 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.”

Sadiq Khan’s office was reached out to for comment.

*A fake name has been used to protect the identity of this source.

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