Fleet News

Firm blasts big brother traffic spies

A PHARMACEUTICAL firm has branded 'big brother' tactics used in traffic surveys as a threat to company car drivers' privacy and human rights, and called on the Government to take action.

Chester-based Geistlich Sons wants the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions to act after one of its employees was spotted by a traffic camera that recorded its number plate.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency then provided the name and address of the car's owner to the survey team so it could send a letter to Geistlich Sons asking why the driver was making the journey.

Alan Barnard, managing director of Geistlich Sons, said: 'I believe this to be an abuse of power.

'The driver of the vehicle should not have been in this area and could have been dismissed. He had not been driving illegally, but details of his vehicle's whereabouts were sent to the company after ownership was obtained from the DVLA.'

Oscar Faber, the company carrying out a survey on the M60, admitted it had received several complaints which it said were 'inevitable' when carrying out this type of survey.

The information should provide a snap-shot of people's travel habits in the battle for a solution to Britain's traffic problems. But with many of the vehicles caught on camera owned by companies, survey requests have also informed employers about staff movements, which legal experts claim could affect their human rights.

David Faithful, solicitor and partner at law firm Amery-Parkes, said: 'This is a difficult issue, because there is no direct reference in human rights legislation to vehicles.

'But if employees could prove information used was detrimental to them, then there could be a case.'

But a spokesman for the DTLR, which ordered the survey, said: 'Extensive legal checks were carried out before the survey began. There was no other way of carrying it out without stopping traffic, which is impossible on a motorway.'

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