Fareham Borough Council's licensing and regulatory affairs committee is set to make a crucial decision regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in taxis, aimed at improving passenger safety.
The proposal comes on the heels of a recent conviction of a taxi driver in Hampshire for sexually assaulting a passenger. The committee will convene on 4 September to discuss and weigh up the merits of this significant safety measure.
The move to install CCTV cameras in taxis follows a report by the Department for Transport (DfT) in July 2020, which emphasised the importance of safety standards in the taxi industry, particularly relating to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. The introduction of this technology aims to enhance passenger security and provide valuable evidence in case of any untoward incidents.
In a previous consultation conducted with 77 members of the licensed trade, it was discovered that approximately 68% were against the mandatory use of CCTV due to concerns over costs. Nevertheless, within the trade, it was revealed that 48% of drivers had already installed CCTV in their vehicles, with 41% citing threats faced during their work.
Another survey involving 95 members of the public showed that four individuals had experienced crimes while being passengers in a taxi. Notably, 74% of respondents expressed that they would feel safer in taxis equipped with CCTV, with 61% supporting the mandatory installation of such surveillance systems.
The council will review its previous decision, made last year, to reject a blanket requirement for CCTV, citing relatively low complaint levels and the financial hardships faced by drivers due to the pandemic. However, recent developments, including the plea from Donna Jones, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, have urged all licensing authorities in Hampshire to introduce mandatory CCTV in taxis and private hire vehicles. Jones's call came after the conviction of a taxi driver in Southampton in May 2023 for a serious sexual assault on a passenger. The presence of CCTV footage in the taxi played a crucial role in securing the conviction without subjecting the victim to the trauma of a trial.
The current proposal suggests that all newly licensed taxis should be equipped with CCTV cameras, while existing vehicles would be given until 25 April 2025, to comply with this requirement.