To consider the attached report.
The Regulatory Services Manager, S Devine, introduced the report on the consideration of in-vehicle CCTV in hackney carriage/private hire vehicles.
A report for consideration of in-vehicle CCTV in taxis was submitted and discussed by the Licensing Committee on 9 March 2020, as a potential means of addressing driver vulnerability and safeguarding of passengers. This followed high profile reports in other parts of the country connecting the taxi trade with serious concerns regarding child exploitation, human trafficking, criminal exploitation and drug trafficking.
A Task and Finish Group commissioned by the Minister of State at the Department of Transport in 2018 recommended the mandatory introduction of cameras in licensed vehicles. However, the Information Commissioners Office CCTV Code of Practice recognises that an important balance must be made between privacy and proportionality and that a mandatory policy around CCTV systems in taxis would require strong justification and should be kept under regular review.
Officers had undertaken their own intelligence gathering and looked at data from the police. No direct allegations relating to the public and their behaviour towards taxi drivers were found. There were no allegation on the Council’s database as well. The crime data did not justify the introduction of CCTV and there were also concerns about making audio recordings. A consultation with the taxi drivers was also carried out and we received only 27 responses out of 415 taxi drivers. 8 were in support of CCTV and 19 against. Officers also spoke to other local authorities. Of the five that had responded four had considered it and rejected the idea on the basis that the crime data did not stack up.
It should also be noted that the taxi drivers themselves would have to pay for the equipment needed and its upkeep. This would put extra strain on a sector of the industry that had been hit hard by Covid, just as we would also be looking at the electrification taxis in the near future, although this should not prevent the Council requiring CCTV for safety reasons if felt appropriate.
If the council introduced either compulsory or voluntary CCTV the council would be responsible for the terms of compliance, and would also have to update its codes of practice and carry out a data protection impact assessment and update its ICO registration. The Community Resilience Team that control all CCTV in the council had the capability to manage this work, if mandatory licensing was considered appropriate.
Councillor Neville noted that we had moved on since the Committee had last considered this. Four other authorities had rejected the idea and there was an extremely low return for the taxi trade. There was no evidence to justify this at present. Perhaps we should revisit this in twelve months’ time.
Councillor Sartin was surprised at the small number of responses and agreed that this was not the time to continue with this. She asked if there was any reason why a taxi driver could not put up their own cameras. She was told that some did, but they had to have appropriate notices displayed and they were checked for compliance during the annual MOT check.
That a report on CCTV be brought back to a future meeting, perhaps in a years’ time.