E.U.: Has Secret Plan for Police to ‘Remote Stop’ Vehicles

Update:

 A French police officer watching for road traffic infringements in Paris Photo: GETTY IMAGES

A French police officer watching for road traffic infringements in Paris  Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The EU is developing a secret plan to give the police the power to control cars by switching the engine off remotely

see source

The European Union is secretly developing a “remote stopping” device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room.

Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled “remote stopping vehicles” as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.

“The project will work on a technological solution that can be a ‘build in standard’ for all cars that enter the European market,” said a restricted document.

The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.

Once enabled the engine of a car used by a fugitive or other suspect would stop, the supply of fuel would be cut and the ignition switched off.

The technology, scheduled for a six-year development timetable, is aimed at bringing dangerous high-speed car chases to an end and to make redundant current stopping techniques such as spiking a vehicle’s tyres.

The proposal was outlined as part of the “key objectives” for the “European Network of Law Enforcement Technologies”, or Enlets, a secretive off-shoot of a European “working party” aimed at enhancing police cooperation across the EU.

Statewatch, a watchdog monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU, have leaked the documents amid concerns the technology poses a serious threat to civil liberties

“We all know about the problems surrounding police stop and searches, so why will be these cars stopped in the first place,” said Tony Bunyan, director of Statewatch.

“We also need to know if there is any evidence that this is a widespread problem. Let’s have some evidence that this is a problem, and then let’s have some guidelines on how this would be used.”

The remote stopping and other surveillance plans have been signed off by the EU’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security, known as Cosi, meaning that the project has the support of senior British Home Office civil servants and police officers.

Cosi, which also meets in secret, was set up by the Lisbon EU Treaty in 2010 to develop and implement what has emerged as a European internal security policy without the oversight of MPs in the House of Commons.

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the plan for threatening civil liberties and for bypassing the parliament.

“The price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique,” he said.

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the measure as “incredible” and a “draconian imposition”.

“It is appalling they are even thinking of it,” he said. “People must protest against this attack on their liberty and vote against an EU big Brother state during the Euro election in May.”

In 2012, Enlets received a £484,000 grant from the European Commission for its declared mission to “support front line policing and the fight against serious and organised crime by gathering user requirements, scanning and raising awareness of new technology and best practices, benchmarking and giving advice”.

The six-year work programme for Enlets also includes improving automatic number plate recognition technology and intelligence sharing. Although the technology for police to stop a vehicle by remote control has still to be developed, Enlets argues the merits of developing such a system.

“Cars on the run can be dangerous for citizens,” said a document. “Criminal offenders will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to a lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely.”

The introduction of stopping devices has raised questions of road safety. David Davis, the Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, warned that the technology could pose a danger to all road users.

“I would be fascinated to know what the state’s liability will be if they put these devices in all vehicles and one went off by accident whilst a car was doing 70mph on a motorway with a truck behind it resulting in loss of life,” he said.

“It is time legislators stopped believing technology is a form of magic and realised that is fallible, and those failures do real harm.”

Toronto: City Council Votes To Permit eBikes in Bicycle Lanes

Update: see previous posts – January 10, 2014 Toronto: Considering Keeping eBikes Off Sidewalks, Cycle Tracks and Multi-Use Paths, Allow Them in Bike Lanes, September 5, 2013 Toronto: Results of Blitz Targeting E-Bikes July 29-Aug.31/13, July 31, 2013 Toronto: Police Will Conduct a Month Long Blitz Targeting E-Bike Riders, July 24, 2013 Ontario: E-Bikes, Questions & Answers, September 6, 2011 E-bikes are Banned on the Martin Goodman Trail.

Toronto City Council voted to allow ebikes to use bicycle lanes.
Toronto City Council voted to allow ebikes to use bicycle lanes on Feb.20/14.

see source

Cyclists said they would feel less safe if electric scooters, also known as e-scooters or e-bikes, were allowed to use bike lanes.

A council committee sided with them in January. But city council as a whole sided with the safety of the e-scooter riders on Thursday, voting 23-17 in favour of letting them use traditional painted bike lanes.

Battery-powered e-scooters, some of which resemble motor scooters and travel up to 32 km/h, will, however, be prohibited from using separated bike lanes.

eBike riding in bicycle lane. Bicycle riders that speak for other cyclists are opposed to eBikes sharing bike lanes, as they say they are endangered. They would prefer that they ride with vehicular traffic instead, which is much more dangerous for eBike riders.
eBike riding in bicycle lane. Bicycle riders that speak for other cyclists are opposed to eBikes sharing bike lanes, as they say they are endangered. They would prefer that eBikes ride with vehicular traffic instead, which is much more dangerous for eBike riders. Bicycle lanes were installed in the City to provide a safe zone for cyclists and to provide a buffer from vehicles.

Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, voted in favour of permitting e-scooters in the painted lanes.

City officials had originally recommended that position, saying e-scooter riders would be safer in the lanes than if they were forced to travel in mixed traffic with faster-moving cars.

But the works committee declined to approve the recommendation after complaints from cyclists who said they didn’t want to share precious lane space with vehicles faster and heavier than regular bikes.

“We don’t have a whole lot of space to begin with,” said Jared Kolb, executive director of advocacy group Cycle Toronto.

“Electric scooters — their max weight is 255 pounds, and that’s without the rider on it. Whereas a bicycle is maybe 20 pounds. So when there’s a collision, you’ve got the extra force from the weight of that vehicle. Which adds danger.”

Ottawa and Mississauga allow e-scooters in bike lanes. Minnan-Wong, who pushed council to reverse the committee decision, said cyclists who campaigned for bike lanes for safety reasons should consider the safety of e-scooter users. He noted that the e-scooters help seniors and people with impaired mobility.

“If the purpose of what we’re trying to achieve is safety, and protect two wheels from four wheels, then we should have some level of understanding, sympathy and protection for the e-scooters,” he said.

Toronto: City Council Votes to Overhaul Toronto Taxi Industry

Update:

The city’s entire taxi fleet will be wheelchair accessible within 10 years under a new licensing system approved by council.
The city’s entire taxi fleet will be wheelchair accessible within 10 years under a new licensing system approved by council.

Changes endorsed by council on Wednesday mean that the city’s entire taxi fleet must be wheelchair-accessible within 10 years.

see source

Toronto’s taxi industry will be overhauled after all.

After three years of deliberation, debate and delay, council voted 31-12 on Wednesday in favour of significant changes that will affect both passengers and everyone involved in the complex industry.

Council rejected a more conservative slate of reforms that was favoured by council’s licensing committee — and the taxi brokerage companies that mounted a concerted lobbying effort.

Like all decisions on taxi matters, this one left some industry players ecstatic and some irate. The debate was held in front of a packed chamber of interested parties who wore green and orange t-shirts to signal their preferences.

Related:

Toronto taxis: Will council support a vomit fee?

City committee supports some taxi regulation changes, defers others

Proposed taxi rules would transform Toronto cab experience

Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets

The vote created a new kind of taxi licence, the Toronto Taxicab Licence (TTL), which all plate owners must obtain by 2024.

Everyone with a TTL will have to use a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. That means the city’s entire taxi fleet will be accessible within 10 years. Since accessible vehicles are expensive and since only a small percentage of riders require such vehicles, brokerage executives said the requirement imposes needless costs.

Taxi customers will soon see some other changes. Riders will be required to pay a $25 “soiling fee” if they vomit in a car. They will be forced to hand taxi drivers $25 up front if the driver feels it is “necessary.” And all taxis will have to use snow tires in the winter months.

Taxi Stand - 6 Vehicles
Taxi Stand – 6 Vehicles

Drivers and plate owners will likely be impacted more substantially than the average rider.

The TTL replaces the current two-tier system that involves “Standard” licences, which can be sold, and “Ambassador” licences that cannot be sold — and can only be used by their owners.

The changes are a boon to the Ambassador-holders, who can trade for a TTL as soon as July. They had complained bitterly that the old system did not let them take on a second driver even if they are sick or injured — and, unlike Standard owners, they did not have an asset they could sell to retire. The new system hurts those Standard owners, who paid up to $345,000 for an asset that may now be worth far less.

Anybody with a TTL has to be at least a part-time driver. That means the end of fleet garages and the absentee non-driver plate owners, who were called exploitative by several councillors on Wednesday. Shift drivers at the meeting said the owner-operator model would mean cleaner cars.

“I think this is a historic moment, when the industry is back in the hands of the people who are working 12 hours a day. The drivers have the industry back in their hands,” said Sajid Mughal, president of the iTaxiworkers Association, which represents some drivers.

Said Beck Taxi operations manager Kristine Hubbard: “I haven’t fully absorbed what all this means, but it’s going to hurt a lot of people. And I don’t know how many people it really helps.”

Toronto: Police Provide Demands to City Over Enforcement of Parking Tickets’ 10-Minute Grace Period

Update: see previous posts – February 16, 2014 Toronto: Police Ignore City Council’s Decision to Observe 10-Minute Grace Period for Overtime Parking – 572,000 Times, May 14, 2013 Toronto: City Council asks Toronto Police to Observe 10-Minute Grace Period for Overtime Parking: The Fixer, March 29, 2013 Toronto: More Motorists Avoid Paying for Parking Tickets By Using the Rules in Place, February 15, 2013 Street Permit Parking: Councillor Paula Fletcher Seeks Grace Period for Bi-Weekly Switch, January 22, 2013 Toronto Parking: A 20 Minute Grace Period for Permit-Holders Unloading Goods?, January 8, 2013 City of Toronto Neglects to Enforce 10-Minute Parking Grace Period in Etobicoke, December 23, 2012 Toronto Parking Tickets – Issued Before the 10 Minute Grace Period is Up and Only Two of These Tickets Will be Cancelled, December 20, 2012 Toronto Parking Ticket – 10 Minute Grace Period Only Offered Twice to Motorists, November 27, 2012 Toronto: Meter Parking Comes With An Additional 10 Minute Grace Period, July 11, 2012 Toronto to Increase On-Street Time-Restricted Parking “Grace Period” to 10 Minutes, February 6, 2012 Toronto Increases Rush Hour Parking Fines from $60 to $150 and Blocking Bike Lanes Anytime is Worth a $150 Ticket, April 13, 2011 Parking Tickets (Toronto) Cancelled Electronically, via Facsimile or Email, July 1, 2010 Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines, May 20, 2010 Parking Ticket Exemptions (25 Page Document – Toronto)

Police say they will enforce a 10-minute grace period for parking tickets if the city changes its existing bylaw to include the policy.
Police say they will enforce a 10-minute grace period for parking tickets if the city changes its existing bylaw to include the policy.

see source

Police say they will enforce a 10-minute grace period for parking tickets if the city changes its existing bylaw to include the policy.

The city’s management committee is set to discuss an amendment to the parking enforcement bylaw next week that would exempt drivers from being ticketed if their pay-and-display receipt is less than 10 minutes past its expiration.

Council passed a similar motion in July 2012 but police continued their policy of observing only a five-minute grace period.

According to Kimberly Rossi, Toronto Police’s Parking Enforcement Unit Commander, this is because the bylaw was never changed.

“When the city makes a motion, that does not necessarily change the law,” she said. “The existing bylaw does not provide a grace period at all.”

Rossi said a review by the chief of police last year found that “if the city wanted to enact a 10-minute grace period, then they should incorporate that into the bylaw.”

If the city does decide to change the bylaw, police would provide a longer grace period, she said.

For the sake of fairness and to account for any time discrepancies on cell phones and watches, parking enforcement officers do give drivers a five-minute grace period before issuing tickets, Rossi said.

She said Chief Bill Blair’s review determined the current practice of five minutes grace was enough to account for the turnover between cars.

“Ten minutes is an extension of that and, from an operational perspective, that’s not necessary,” Rossi said.

“At the end of the day, it’s important that all branches of law enforcement work together in partnership,” she said. “Having these different protocols creates confusion and the public deserves to have certainty in the law.”

 

Toronto: Police Ignore City Council’s Decision to Observe 10-Minute Grace Period for Overtime Parking

Update: see previous posts – May 14, 2013 Toronto: City Council asks Toronto Police to Observe 10-Minute Grace Period for Overtime Parking: The Fixer, March 29, 2013 Toronto: More Motorists Avoid Paying for Parking Tickets By Using the Rules in Place, February 15, 2013 Street Permit Parking: Councillor Paula Fletcher Seeks Grace Period for Bi-Weekly Switch, January 22, 2013 Toronto Parking: A 20 Minute Grace Period for Permit-Holders Unloading Goods?, January 8, 2013 City of Toronto Neglects to Enforce 10-Minute Parking Grace Period in Etobicoke, December 23, 2012 Toronto Parking Tickets – Issued Before the 10 Minute Grace Period is Up and Only Two of These Tickets Will be Cancelled, December 20, 2012 Toronto Parking Ticket – 10 Minute Grace Period Only Offered Twice to Motorists, November 27, 2012 Toronto: Meter Parking Comes With An Additional 10 Minute Grace Period, July 11, 2012 Toronto to Increase On-Street Time-Restricted Parking “Grace Period” to 10 Minutes, February 6, 2012 Toronto Increases Rush Hour Parking Fines from $60 to $150 and Blocking Bike Lanes Anytime is Worth a $150 Ticket, April 13, 2011 Parking Tickets (Toronto) Cancelled Electronically, via Facsimile or Email, July 1, 2010 Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines, May 20, 2010 Parking Ticket Exemptions (25 Page Document – Toronto)

Effective Friday, January 24, 2014 if anyone is parked in a bicycle path, at anytime, they will receive a parking ticket, with a $150.00 fine.  If anyone parks in a no stop, no stand or no parking area during rush hour (defined as 6-10 am or 3-7 pm) from Mon-Fri they will receive a $150 parking fine.  If anyone has received 3 parking tickets that are not paid or not disputed, they will have their vehicle towed off the street. To get their vehicle back, the total damages will be much higher than 3 parking tickets. These tickets will not be reduced and therefore should all be challenged.
Parking Enforcement Officers can be overzealous downtown and will issue as many parking tickets as they are capable of placing on every vehicle. Shoppers are afraid to park downtown and shop in fear of receiving a $30 or $40 parking ticket. As a result, City council voted on July 11, 2012 to increase the 5 minute grace period that police give for overtime parkers to 10 minutes. Police have been ignoring this 10-minute grace period and in 2013, the City of Toronto issued 2.63 million parking tickets, raising $78.44 million in revenue, according to the City of Toronto.Approximately 572,000, or 21.7 per cent of these tickets, were issued for expired pay-and-display offences.

see source

A new motion to overrule police and give drivers 10 minutes’ grace before being ticketed is headed to council again.

After months of confusion surrounding a 10-minute grace period for parking tickets, something is finally being done — again, that is.

On Feb. 24, the city’s management committee will discuss an amendment that will give drivers a 10-minute grace period after their parking meter has expired.

While this might be news for some, for others this is a serious case of déjà-vu.

In July 2012, city council passed a similar motion that gave drivers a 10-minute grace period after their pay-and-display parking receipt expired.

So what gives?

Currently, Toronto police observe a five-minute grace period, creating confusion for drivers who receive a parking ticket for being between six and 10 minutes late. The amendment will actually make it a 10-minute grace period, which means police will not be able to ticket someone until 10 minutes after their pay-and-display ticket expires.

“The police have been very resistant to adjust their rule to city council’s rule, so therefore it has been incredibly confusing for the general public,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, who has been spearheading the issue.

“Let’s say you are seven minutes late; the police will still give you a ticket, but if you go to the city administrative office they will forgive the ticket, in most cases.”

Parking Enforcement Officers work for the Toronto Police Services Board.
Parking Enforcement Officers work for the Toronto Police Services Board. The Toronto Police Service Parking Enforcement Unit observes a 5-minute operational grace period before issuing a parking ticket for a time-limited offence, e.g. overstaying at a parking meter or a pay-and-display parking zone. The grace period is intended to ensure fairness and integrity in parking enforcement operations, and serves both as a courtesy to drivers, and avoids the issue of timing discrepancies between a driver’s watch, a hand-held ticket-writing device, and a meter or pay-and-display machine. Despite City Council’s motion which passed on July 11, 2012 to extend the 5-minute grace period to 10-minute for motorist’s that park, parking enforcement officers have ignored Council’s 10 minute grace period, for almost two years.

In November 2012, the City’s ombudsman Fiona Crean, urged council to better inform citizens about the city’s policies for challenging tickets, including better access on the city’s website.

“The issue is not about what we pass at city council, but having the police agree to resolve the issue with the city,” Matlow said.

“The reality is that they need to work in concert with council’s resolution,” he said adding city staff are getting closer to resolving the issue with the police once and for all.

Police were unavailable for comment on the issue Friday evening.

In 2013, the City of Toronto issued 2.63 million parking tickets, raising $78.44 million in revenue, according to the City of Toronto.

Approximately 572,000, or 21.7 per cent of these tickets, were issued for expired pay-and-display offences.

According to the report, if the motion is passed it will reduce the number of tickets issued by as much as 10 per cent, or about 60,000 tickets. This would reduce revenue by about $1.8 million annually.

In addition, the city will need to spend between $500,000 and $700,000 to change parking signs across the city.

The new motion comes less than a month after city council approved hefty parking fines of up to $150 for parking, stopping, or idling during rush hour. The new rules apply between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The fines apply citywide.