BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has defended its plans to introduce a traffic ‘spy car’ in light of criticism from a civil liberties campaign group.

Big Brother Watch produced a report which showed the total revenue generated by local authorities between 2008 and 2013 by using CCTV surveillance is at least £311,774,756.83.

Ninety per cent of that was generated in London, which is where CCTV surveillance was first introduced and is used most.

However ‘spy cars’ are becoming increasingly popular across the country.

Blackburn with Darwen Council was listed as having made nothing from CCTV in the five year period, but has announced plans to start using surveillance to address traffic problems.

Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The Government rightly wants to reign in this unjustified surveillance, so councils are turning to desperate arguments about public safety to justify their cameras, despite having absolutely no evidence to back up their claims. The use of CCTV and spy cars for parking enforcement should be banned.

“The Government should urgently investigate whether or not the use of cameras to snoop on motorists breaches surveillance laws, particularly where a traffic warden sits in a control room looking for motorists to ticket.”

But Blackburn Council said its use of the car was necessary to address parking concerns that had been repeatedly raised by residents.

Brian Bailey, director of regeneration, said: “We cannot comment on this survey as we have not contributed to it so we do not know whether the figures are accurate or not.

“People have approached the council time and again to say one of their biggest concerns is bad and inconsiderate parking especially near schools. “The Executive Board in March agreed to explore different ways of solving these problems including seeking approval from the Department of Transport for some new and additional powers.

“It also brings us in line with other councils. It’s the start of the process and the council is keen to get residents involved in these discussions.”