The use of CCTV cameras which automatically issues fines to motorists has been defended after criticism from motoring groups.

Redbridge Council is currently running a trial of the Videalert system, which uses number plate recognition technology to catch drivers committing traffic offences.

The authority is the first in the country to use the system, which has drawn criticism from the AA and RAC.  

AA president Edmund King said the scheme appears to be about “harvesting” fines on an industrial scale when there could be problems with the road lay out or signage.

The RAC said the claim from Videalert that its system “will deliver a higher return on investment” created the impression that it would be used to make money rather than deter drivers from breaking the rules.

Redbridge Council said the system was not chosen to generate revenue, but to improve safety.

A spokesman said: “These are being tested to help improve safety in areas where drivers are ignoring road traffic restrictions placing other road users and pedestrians at risk.

"The contraventions being enforced in the trial can only be enforced with CCTV. The areas were chosen as they all experience a high number of drivers ignoring the restrictions in place, potentially putting people in danger as well as causing congestion."

The cameras were installed six months ago in Johnston Road, High Road and Snakes Lane West in Woodford Green, Chadwell Heath Lane and High Road, in Chadwell Heath, and High Road and Clements Road, Ilford.