Counter-terror police investigating Ulez camera explosion after remains of IED found at scene of the blast

7 December 2023, 17:51 | Updated: 7 December 2023, 17:52

This is the moment a Ulez camera explodes.
This is the moment a Ulez camera explodes. Picture: Facebook/X/Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Police have launched a criminal investigation into the explosion of a Ulez camera after recovering a low-sophistication IED at the scene of the blast.

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The blast took place in Sidcup on Wednesday evening, reportedly blowing out the windows of a nearby home and damaging a van.

The incident is not being treated as a terrorism offence at this time, police said, but officers from the Counter Terrorism Command will lead investigations.

A statement from the Met Police said: “The incident is being treated as a deliberate act, which was caused by what appears to be a low-sophistication improvised explosive device (IED).

“At this early stage, the incident is not being treated as terrorism, but officers from the Counter Terrorism Command, which includes those with specialist expertise in explosives, are leading the investigation, working in close liaison with local officers in the area.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, Commander for the Bexley area said: “Thankfully, nobody was injured as a result of this incident, but it is extremely concerning that an explosive device seems to have been deliberately placed in a public place. This could have very easily resulted in members of the public being very seriously injured.

“Because of the seriousness of this incident, we are making urgent enquiries to try and identify anyone involved, and officers with specialist expertise and capability from our Counter Terrorism Command are leading the investigation.

“This was an extremely dangerous incident that could have resulted in innocent members of the public being injured or worse. If you have any information that could assist our investigation, then I would urge you to get in touch immediately.”

Ulez camera explosion in sidcup down a residential street. Someone's house windows blown out and a van damaged. Explosion could be heard as far as Danson park and welling.

Posted by Julie Graham on Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Footage captured of the incident shows vehicles travelling down the residential street when suddenly a bright flash breaks out from the camera's electric box, with sparks seemingly jumping out amid the explosion.

Posted to Facebook, the video caption reads: “Ulez camera explosion in Sidcup down a residential street. Someone’s house windows blown out and a van damaged. Explosion could be heard as far as Danson park and welling”.

The explosion happened overnight as police and firefighters rushed to the scene in Willersley Avenue, Sidcup.

One nearby resident said the explosion could be "heard all round the area" after saying the explosion left them "gobsmacked".

Footage of the aftermath showed debris strewn across the road, a huge dent in the side of a van and a chunk had been taken out of a brick wall.

Stunned neighbours lined the street to take in what happened.

Police said they were called to reports of an explosion on Willersley Avenue, Sidcup, around 6:45pm on Wednesday.

A Ulez camera which had been installed on the road earlier in the day was cut down at around 5:15pm - police said they are not ruling out that the two incidents may be connected.

Nearby vehicles and a home were damaged during the explosion. No members of the public were injured.

“The remains of an IED was recovered by officers and have been sent to a specialist team for urgent forensic examination. Officers are also carrying out extensive CCTV enquiries in and around the area,” the force added.

Some believed the camera had been taken down before the blast happened, as they are targeted by anti-Ulez vandals, but that was not clear.

"Ulez camera's been dismantled, blown the geezer's van in half, shrapnel everywhere," said a man recording the clip.

"Broke the geezer's fence. It's like a WW2 explosion's just gone off.

Read more: Ulez camera vandal admits criminal damage with spray paint in first successful prosecution

"Well done, Sadiq."

One Reddit user said: "It was bad the explosion was so loud I though someone set of a display firework on the ground!! It blew up hit a van and smashed someone's wall!"

Another wrote: "The noise was horrendous. We thought it was a bomb. The stupid f***s that did this need prosecuting to the absolute full extent of the law.

"They're VERY lucky they didn't actually kill someone. Is that what they want? What scumbags."

Ulez cameras are being targeted by vandals
Ulez cameras are being targeted by vandals. Picture: Alamy

Ulez cameras continue to be targeted by opponents to the scheme, which charges drivers £12.50 a day if their car does not meet emissions standards.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan has described Ulez as essential for reducing air pollution in the city.

But it has become controversial as the Conservatives try to turn some green initiatives into electoral issues after their success in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, which was effectively turned into a referendum on Ulez.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also distanced himself from eco measures that burden poorer people.

In November, the Met said almost 1,000 crimes linked to vandalism or theft of the cameras, which record number plates to ensure cars meet requirements, had been reported.

Anyone with information that could assist with the investigation should call 101 quoting CAD 5819/06DEC.