Nearly 200,000 motorists have received fines totalling £8m in the past year after being caught by Smart cars fitted with CCTV cameras, a report reveals today.

Campaigners warned that the increasing use of vehicles with cameras on masts marked a further spread in the "surveillance society".

Research found that more than 50 CCTV Smart cars were patrolling 31 council areas and raised the equivalent of £322,789 for each town hall that used them.

The tiny cars, fitted with 12ft masts with a camera attached, are usually parked at junctions. They are used to film motorists who use bus lanes or who are judged to be driving without due care and attention.

Councils argue that the vehicles are helping to cut number of accidents, but motoring organisations have protested that they amount to a creep of "Big Brother" monitoring.

The report was compiled by the campaign group Big Brother Watch though Freedom of Information requests. The 25 councils that released data said they raised a total of £8,069,715 from 188,000 motorists between April 2009 and March 2010.

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