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Nearly 200,000 motorists caught, prompting complaints of Big Brother encroachment

Nearly 200,000 motorists have been fined a total of £8m in the past year after being caught by Smart cars fitted with CCTV cameras, according to a new report.

The report, from campaign group Big Brother Watch, says that more than 50 CCTV Smart cars are patrolling 31 council areas and raised the equivalent of £322,789 last year for each town hall that uses them.

The cars are used to film motorists who use bus lanes or who are judged to be driving without due care and attention.

Councils argue that the vehicles are helping to cut number of accidents, but motoring organisations have protested that they amount to a creep of "Big Brother" monitoring.

The 25 councils that released data said they raised a total of £8,069,715 from 188,000 motorists between April 2009 and March 2010.

Dylan Sharpe, Campaign Director of Big Brother Watch, said, “The CCTV Smart car represents a very dangerous escalation in Britain's surveillance society. The vehicles are sent out to catch people and make money, with road safety only an afterthought. £8 million is an eye-watering amount to take in fines in just 25 councils. It is surely only a matter of time before more councils start using these cars. The Coalition Government must act now and prevent that from happening.”

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine (www.simpsonmagazine.cc).