Police have issued an image of a man they want to speak to in connection with the vandalism of cameras in London’s controversial ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).
The devices track cars entering the zone – and motorists whose vehicles do not meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a £12.50 daily fee, or face a fine.
ULEZ, which is already in place in central and inner London, is due to expand to the capital’s borders with Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey from 29 August.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has repeatedly stressed that 90% of cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant with ULEZ – but its expansion has encountered fierce resistance in some areas due to the rising cost of living.
While Londoners can apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to replace a non-compliant vehicle, no such scrappage scheme is in place for those who reside outside the capital.
Vigilantes opposed to the move have targeted enforcement cameras installed by Transport for London (TfL), often cutting the cameras’ wires or completely removing the devices.
The Metropolitan Police launched an operation targeting the group, who describe themselves as “blade runners”, earlier this year and said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to ULEZ cameras as of 1 August.
This includes 185 reports of cables being damaged, 164 cameras being stolen and 38 reports of cameras being obscured.
The force on Friday released an image of a man it says it wants to trace in connection with four offences in Hillingdon, Harrow and Uxbridge on 17 June.
Commander Owain Richards 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.”
In July, the High Court ruled the ULEZ expansion is legal after five Conservative-run councils brought a legal challenge – which included Surrey County Council.
Mr Khan has previously described his decision to expand the ULEZ as “very difficult” but insisted it would “see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air”.
Motorcyclists opposed to the ULEZ expansion will ride together on the M25 on Sunday.