Due to the fact that many of the fares taxi drivers take are people coming home from nights out drinking police often rely on drivers when it comes to helping them deal with drunk and disorderly behaviour or other forms of illegal activity. Safety is a big issue for taxi drivers as drunk passengers can sometimes be verbally or physically aggressive, which is why many drivers have chosen to install CCTV cameras into their vehicles so that if there ever is an issue they can hand the footage on to the police.
This is why Rugby Borough Council is now debating making it mandatory for all hackney carriage and private hire taxi drivers to have CCTV cameras installed in their vehicles, which has been supported by the Rugby Hackney Owners Drivers Association (RHODA). So far only a few taxi drivers from the area have CCTV installed in their vehicles, however the council chiefs want to see all 166 taxis in the area having the technology installed as standard.
In a report to the borough council’s licensing committee it said: “Whilst CCTV can assist in the prevention of crime and disorder and can be a useful tool when investigating offences, the issue of making CCTV compulsory in licensed vehicles must be carefully considered. The public must have confidence surveillance is appropriate and proportionate. There must also be appropriate privacy safeguards about data protection. There is a risk images taken in a licensed hackney or private hire vehicle may be misused by drivers or operators.”
The Government’s Department for Transport have already said they support the use of CCTV in taxis, however they would have to take into consideration the cost of installing them in all taxis as well as privacy issues for passengers. On average, it will cost between £500 and £1000 to install CCTV into each taxi, however it has not yet been decided who would cover the costs, yet it is probable that taxi drivers would struggle to pay for it themselves on top of their licensing fees and taxi insurance costs.
Before the plans go ahead there will be a consultation on the proposal according to council in order to make sure members of the public, taxi drivers and police staff all have their opinions head. The report added: “The consultation exercise will provide the licensed trade with an opportunity to make their views known and will ensure that the whole process is fair and transparent.”