Counter-terror police arrest two men after Ulez camera is blown up in London suburb

A 'low-sophistication improvised explosive device' was used to damage the camera in Sidcup

Since Ulez was expanded on August 29 there has been a surge in vandalism of the scheme's cameras. Reuters
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Counter-terrorist police in London have arrested two men in connection with an explosion that damaged an ultra low emission zone (Ulez) camera.

Police said a “low-sophistication improvised explosive device” was used to damage the camera in Willersley Avenue, Sidcup, in the south-east of the city, at about 6.45pm on December 6.

The camera, which had been installed earlier in the day, had been cut down about one and a half hours before it blew up.

No one was injured in the explosion but vehicles and one home were damaged.

On Monday a 60-year-old man from the area was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or property, contrary to section two of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

A 61-year-old man was also arrested in Horsham, West Sussex, on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or property, and criminal damage, contrary to section one of the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

Both remained in custody at a south London police station and searches are under way at two addresses in Sidcup and Horsham.

Classic car owners affected by the Ulez expansion – in pictures

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, Commander for the Bexley area, said: “The explosion could easily have had far more harmful consequences and today's arrests highlight just how seriously the Met is treating the incident.

“My local officers are continuing to work with and support the Counter Terrorism Command who are leading the investigation due to their specialism in dealing with incidents involving the use of explosives.”

After the incident a spokesman for mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This grotesquely irresponsible behaviour puts both lives and property at risk.”

Mr Khan's decision to expand the Ulez area to cover the whole of London from August 29 has sparked a surge in vandalism of the scheme's cameras, which use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to identify vehicles.

Figures released by the Met in November showed nearly 1,000 crimes linked to Ulez cameras being stolen or vandalised have been recorded in the past seven months.

People who drive in the Ulez area in a vehicle that does not meet minimum emissions standards are liable for a £12.50 daily fee.

Figures show about 60,000 vehicle owners are now paying the daily fee to drive in the expanded zone.

Launched in 2019, Ulez is the world's first scheme that requires vehicles to comply with anti-pollution measures 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Separate from London's congestion charge, which is aimed at reducing traffic, Ulez is designed to cut air pollution in the capital by discouraging the use of high-emission vehicles by imposing a daily fee.

It aims to improve the health of Londoners by reducing the amount of particulate matter and nitrous oxide that they breathe.

In 2020, Ella Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to have air pollution cited as a cause of death.

She died in 2013, aged nine, after suffering an asthma attack brought on by ingesting traffic fumes near her home in south-east London.

Updated: December 19, 2023, 8:29 AM