‘Blade Runners’ destroy 387 London ULEZ cameras in four months

Since local authorities in London decided to expand the ultra-low-emission zone (ULEZ) to improve the air quality, 387 ULEZ cameras have been destroyed, obscured, or stolen between April and mid-August.

The majority was vandalized in outer London, where the zone was expanded. A shadowy group called the ‘Blade Runners’ is believed to be responsible for some thefts and sabotage attempts.

According to the London police, the ‘Blade Runner’ activists wage war on the eco-scheme that aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the city, and they’ve said they would not stop until all cameras have been removed.

Common methods employed by the ‘Blade Runners’ include cutting the camera’s wires, painting over the lens, or completely removing the device. Metropolitan Police said there had been around 185 reports of destroyed cables, 164 stolen, and 38 obscured cameras.

Criminal actions

Dozens of numberplate reading cameras have also been vandalized or covered up. According to the police, “These are clearly unacceptable acts of criminality, and we have a team of officers investigating and identifying those responsible.”

In November last year, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced that the existing ULEZ would be further expanded for health reasons. “Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will mean five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives,” he said.


From August 29th, it will be expanded to cover almost all of Greater London. The expanded zone will also include neighborhoods with less public transport and where people depend more on their own transport. According to critics, the plan is unluckily timed, as people already struggle with the cost of living.

Ten days before the zone is set to cover the entire city, protesters have brought traffic to a standstill at the edge of London to fight against the plans to extend the ULEZ. Protesters shouted into megaphones and blew whistles around a roundabout at Orpington War Memorial, southeast London.

‘Armored’ cameras

Since the announcement of the expansion, some 1 900 cameras have been installed in outer London, and a further 2 750 are being fixed in new areas to be covered by the expansion.

The newest cameras are now ‘armored’ with wires that offer extra protection, including through black metal boxes. In the meantime, Scotland Yard is investigating dozens of attacks on enforcement cameras.

And finally, what do people in the streets think? According to BBC coverage, residents have mixed feelings. Some consider the ‘harsh action’ of targeting ULEZ cameras ‘a step too far’; they think it’s criminal.

Others, on the other hand, say the activists have a point: “Many old people have been using their cars for years, and now they just cannot afford it anymore.” Vehicles not meeting minimum emissions standards must pay a £12,50 daily fee when used in the low-emission zone or face a fine.


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