A staggering 171 crimes relating to ULEZ cameras have been reported in the span of just over two weeks, the Met Police has said.

Even this eye-watering figure likely downplays how many cameras have been vandalised, as other crimes may have gone unreported and a single report can represent attacks on multiple cameras.

Two individuals have been arrested so far for attacks on cameras, the force told the BBC, with one charged bailed for trial to June 2024 and the other having their discontinued by the CPS.

The controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone, originally suggested by Boris Johnson and now officially expanded by London Mayor Sadiq Khan across all of London, has become a focal point of political division.

Expanded across all of the capital’s boroughs on August 29, the system enforces fines for drivers of non-compliant vehicles within the zones in an effort to discourage their use and reduce air pollution.

But detractors say it acts as an effective tax on many London tradespeople who rely on traveling through the capital and cannot afford to swap out their vehicle.

The Met Police told the BBC it “continues to monitor anti-ULEZ protests, as we do for all potential public order matters, to consider if bespoke policing plans are required”.

Protests against the cameras have seen crowds of 200 to 300 people gathering.

There are now over 3,400 cameras across the whole of ULEZ.

Anyone caught driving a vehicle which doesn’t match up to the scheme’s emission standard will be fined £12.50 a day, or £180 if they fail to pay.

Vigilantes, including one group named the “Balaclava Blade Runners”, have launched attacks on the cameras – spray painting or stealing them, or snipping their wires.

According to crowdsourced data, the most vicious fight back against the scheme has been in Bromley, where 100 out of its 120 cameras are reportedly either missing or damaged.

Peter Fortune, London Assembly member for Bexley and Bromley in the Greater London Authority, said: “You have to wonder if the scheme is fit for purpose. If they don’t have coverage across the area, then by definition it can’t be a Greater London-wide ultra-low emission zone.

“Is there an argument to say there is inequitable treatment across Greater London here.

He added: “I can’t condone any kind of illegal activity, and I wouldn’t condone any kind of criminal act pulling them down.

“I also wouldn’t condone the morally dubious act of putting them up in the first place, and think that has led to real frustration from people.”

Unofficial stats gathered by a group of people calling themselves Julie’s ULEZ map, who are opposed to the expansion, claims that out of the 1,762 cameras in outer London, about 750 have been damaged or stolen.

MP for Sutton and Cheam and London minister Paul Scully has written to Mr Khan urging him to remove the ULEZ camera in front of the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, which has also been targeted by vandals.

He told Mr Khan the camera was “serving as a prominent lightning rod towards those who are willing to take the law into their own hands”.

He added that the location of the camera was aimed at intentionally catching motorists “venturing little more than a hundred metres into the boundary to visit loved ones, receive treatment or attend their place of work”.

A Transport for London spokesperson said: “Criminal damage to Ulez cameras puts the perpetrators at risk of prosecution and life-changing injuries, while simultaneously risking the safety of the public.

“Camera vandalism will not stop the ULEZ operating London-wide. All vandalised cameras are replaced as soon as possible.”

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