CCTV to be fitted in town’s taxis?

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TAXI passengers could be filmed during their journeys as drivers apply to install CCTV in their cars.

Drivers are seeking permission to fit CCTV cameras in their vehicles in a bid to protect themselves against threats and assaults from passengers.

Scarborough Council’s licensing committee is set to review a new policy, put together by the authority in response to the requests.

The policy sets out strict conditions for the use of CCTV in Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles.

It states all cameras much be able store images in a way which stops them being removed, down loaded or viewed by the driver or any other person travelling in the vehicle, and only the council and the police will be authorised to view footage.

The cameras, which will cost drivers around £550 to install, will be activated by the vehicles ignition, and will continue to record for 15 minutes from the engine being switched off.

Andy Skelton, head of Environmental Services at the council, is recommending the licensing committee approves the policy. He said; “The licensing authority is required to ensure the safety of people travelling within its licensed vehicles. This applies equally to drivers and passengers.

“The protection that will be offered to drivers and passengers by the installation and operation of approved CCTV systems in licensed vehicles must be balanced against the potential infringement of civil liberties and Human Rights

“These conflicting rights may be balanced by implementing prominent signs to be displayed advising potential passengers of the presence of the CCTV system, and by preventing the recording device from being tampered with, or its footage being accessed by persons other than Licensing Officers or Police Officers.”

The policy has been subject to a six week consultation during which it was sent to the Scarborough and District Taxi Association, all taxi and private hire operators and drivers, and North Yorkshire Police.

Mr Skelton said: “A total of 15 responses were received but in principle there have been no adverse comments.

“A number of comments were received to the effect that the installation of CCTV should not be made a mandatory requirement. It was never intended to make such systems mandatory but rather to put a policy in place to ensure only suitable and effective systems are installed by those drivers wishing to do so.

“One comment received stated such systems may provoke exhibitionist/extrovert behaviour in some passengers. On balance Officers feel that the probability of such behaviour occurring is small and in any case is mitigated by the fact that any such behaviour would be recorded for evidential purposes.”

If the policy is approved by the licensing committee, which is due to meet on Monday, it is proposed that with effect from November 1 drivers, upon application for a new licence or for renewal of a licence, as part of that application, request to install a CCTV system.