Barnet places CCTV to watch the school run

26 Feb 2016, 10:19 pm

Council adds to early momentum to install fixed cameras and impose penalties to control parking and careless driving around school gates

Barnet has become the latest London borough to adopt a programme of placing CCTV cameras close to schools in efforts to prevent traffic congestion and increase road safety.

London_Borough_of_BarnetIt has signed a deal with OpenView Solutions to supply and maintain the cameras and software in its Videalart system, while its Safe and Sustainable Travel Team is planning to work with schools on a ‘Parking Pledge’.

The cameras include automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and an analytics function to spot cars that spend too long in a spot where they cause an obstruction, raising an alert that is then recorded into the system. The evidence is then relayed back to the council.

The system is intended as a deterrent to people driving carelessly or parking on yellow zig-zag markings while dropping off or picking up their children from the schools. The cameras will be sited at points where they can also spot cars making illegal U-turns, blocking yellow box junctions, and defying ‘no entry’ signs.

Drivers who perform any of the illegal manoeuvres will initially be sent a penalty charge warning notice, which will have zero value for the first month after the cameras are installed, but from April will become an official notice of a penalty charge.

The installations have begun with a plan to have them in place for at least 20 locations by the beginning of April. It will extend to 32 schools in the borough.

Head’s concern

Carole Catley, head teacher of Deansbrook Infants School, said: “We have been concerned for some time about the way parents at the school park outside the gate and drive dangerously.

“Through our weekly newsletters, parents and carers have been constantly reminded about parking responsibly but, unfortunately, a very small proportion of our community still choose to continue to be inconsiderate. We are, therefore, delighted that our school has been chosen to trial the new CCTV cameras and hope that these will help to keep our children safe.”

Councillor Dean Cohen, chairman of Barnet’s environment committee, said: “Road safety around our schools and on the borough’s roads remains a top priority, as is traffic congestion. I am confident these measures will help keep traffic moving safely in our borough.”

Barnet’s initiative reflects a growing momentum for the use of CCTV cameras with ANPR outside of schools. A number of councils have used mobile CCTV on vans to monitor school run traffic sporadically, but far fewer have fixed them permanently close to schools.

The move had been held back for some time by the opposition of Eric Pickles when he was local government secretary in the coalition Government, but he quietly dropped his plan to prohibit the practice in 2014.

A spokesperson for OpenView said that a few councils are now installing the cameras, referring to schemes in Redbridge and Bromley as other examples in London.

Picture from Barnet Council