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All taxi and PHVs in Cambridge will be forced to install CCTV despite industry concerns over costs

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

All taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in Cambridge will soon have CCTV installed in them, in what they say will be a boost for customer and driver safety, despite industry concerns.

Cambridge City Council’s Licensing Committee gave the green light to a programme which will see CCTV systems in all vehicles licensed by the council by 31 March 2024.

The council is responsible for licensing all Hackney carriage, private hire and dual drivers, as well as taxi proprietors and operators in Cambridge.

As taxi licensing authority, the council has a number of objectives, including the safety and protection of the public, vehicle safety, prevention of crime and protection of drivers – all of which will help to be met by the installation of CCTV in the vehicles it licenses.

Introducing CCTV for all licensed vehicles will also ensure there is supporting evidence for any criminal or enforcement investigations into customers’ or drivers’ actions or behaviour while the vehicles are operational.

At this week’s committee meeting councillors agreed to review the CCTV programme every five years, with the first review to take place in 2029.

The council is working closely with neighbouring South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) on specifications for the installation of CCTV, as SCDC are also looking to introduce it in vehicles which they license.

Under the specifications for use, all recorded images will be securely captured, stored and encrypted, and the CCTV system will not be accessible while the vehicle is in use commercially. Vehicle proprietors will be able to source and install their own systems as long as they meet or exceed the council’s requirements.

Cllr Russ McPherson, Chair of Cambridge City Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “As licensing authority we have a duty to do all we can to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers.

“Fortunately, incidents in Cambridge’s taxis and private hire vehicles are rare but installation of CCTV across the fleet will provide additional reassurance to customers and drivers alike, act as a deterrent, and will be able to provide clear evidence for any investigations that may have to take place.”

However, taxi drivers in Cambridge have warned the council they may take court action should a costly CCTV taxi policy be pushed on to them during a nationwide cost of living crisis.

In the Licensing Committee report it was revealed that South Cambridgeshire District Council had identified one provider who estimated installation costs based on the number of cameras needed. It was estimated that a single camera system would put drivers back between £75 to £100, and £100-£125 for a two-camera system. With panic buttons installed also, units would cost around £320 (excluding VAT) for a single camera unit with one panic button, to around £500 for a two-camera unit with two panic buttons. A further two Cambridgeshire based companies quoted £500 per unit.

Ahmed Karaahmed, the chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, told Cambridgeshire Live that the city council was simply raising costs for cabbies already struggling due to the cost of living crisis. Karaahmed said: “The taxi trade is trying to recover from long lasting covid until now, with no profit. Next year will be another challenging year for our business, and winter will be tough. It is a tough time to be running a business, this winter people might be struggling to pay for food, their mortgages, energy bills, and I believe some taxi drivers will fall into this group. Cambridge City Council is creating an extra expense for the taxi trade.”

Mr Karaahmed informed the Licensing Committee that if the CCTV policy was given the final green light, they would think about taking the matter to court.


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