Rules of Engagement

There is no statutory guidance given to local authorities on how to conduct the enforcement of moving traffic contraventions. This gives them the freedom to push the system to the limit in order to maximise revenue. They are aided and abetted by the herds of sheeple out there in the community who mindlessly acquiesce and part with their money as soon as a PCN lands on their doormat.

For those of us who wish to challenge the system, the complete lack of regulation makes life difficult. Individual councils are authorised by London Councils (formerly the Association of London Government). When authorised they are given a set of guidelines to follow, but there is no binding contract. The evidence suggests that no one ever bothers to read the guidelines.

If the guidelines were to be made mandatory then that would be a step in the right direction. As they stand, the guidelines are written by the councils, for the councils and as such are heavily biased against the motorist. Some revision is necessary in order to redress that balance.

Currently there are 3 sets of guidelines issued by London Councils:

Code of Practice for Operation of CCTV Enforcement Cameras

This is primarily a procedural manual to ensure that the video evidence is correctly obtained and stored.

This document does state the requirement for camera warning signs (section 2.3.5) which many councils choose to ignore.

The rules relating to the release of the video evidence are stated in sections 2.5.10 onwards and these are quite strict. Some councils offer to send a copy of the video evidence on demand, whereas TfL will charge you £10 for a copy. A consistent approach is needed and it should be the right of anyone sent a PCN to see the evidence, at their own convenience, before deciding on an appeal.

Code of Practice on Civil Parking and Traffic Enforcement

This document is useless. It covers parking and bus lanes but has not been revised to cover moving traffic contraventions. There appears to be no version control on this document.

Assessment of Moving Traffic Contraventions

This document was drafted originally for the pilot scheme and it offers more specific guidance as to the “Purpose[which] is to identify contravention, when it warrants the issue of a PCN and desirable evidence

When referring to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) the guidance states “TSRGD convoluted wording, plain English description desirable;” So thats’s their reason for not complying with TSRGD; they don’t understand it because it’s too convoluted!

It goes on: “However, the requirements of the Regs. Must be met in full otherwise there will be a risk that drivers can successfully appeal against the PCN.” You have been warned – check your boxes!

“In all cases whether for signs or markings it will be a pre-requisite of evidence that a record has been made that day or at the time of contravention that the signs or markings were present, correctly orientated and in good condition.” I wish more councils would take note of the requirement for the markings to be in good condition.

In general terms a PCN can be issued when the “Camera (or observed) record shows that vehicle entered box when exit was not clear and has stopped.” The video evidence must “…record the arrival of the vehicle, any signals made by driver, the availability of ‘clear’ exits; its entry into the box, continued state of exit[s] and subsequent actions by the driver.

LOCAL GUIDANCE TO CAMERA OPERATORS

At a local level this guidance may be made more specific such as these guidelines issued by Croydon Council to its CCTV Traffic control room operators.

A vehicle is deemed stopped when it is stationary for 5 seconds or more. ” Now that is a good rule. Some councils have been known to issue PCNs for the briefest of pauses.

Any vehicle that sits in a box junction is potentially causing an obstruction and should not be there.” This statement will inevitably add weight to the accusations of revenue raising. PCNs should really only be issued when the vehicle is actually causing an obstruction.

When considering the case of a vehicle partly overhanging the box “…this is also an assessment. If a vehicle has one wheel in box and the back of vehicle is overhanging in the box as well and a potential road user was having difficulty maneuvering around this vehicle. Yes a penalty would be issued in this case.” Err, some consistency between this rule and the previous rule would be helpful.

The Councils are persecuting us drivers for not sticking to the rules, but who ensures that they stick to the rules? The sooner councils are made accountable for their actions, the better.

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