Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Angelique Foster, is intensifying her campaign for the compulsory installation of CCTV in taxis across Derbyshire and Derby City, citing strong evidence to support this safety measure.
The move, aimed at enhancing the safety of both residents and taxi drivers, has gained significant momentum following North East Derbyshire District Council's decision to make CCTV mandatory in taxis, a first in the county.
Commissioner Foster's persistent advocacy stems from a belief that CCTV cameras in taxis can play a crucial role in safeguarding the community. This viewpoint was recently reiterated in her robust response to Derby City Council's consultation on mandating CCTV in taxis and private hire vehicles. Here, she emphasised that CCTV would aid not only in crime prevention and detection but also address wider safety concerns.
The urgency of the campaign is underscored by data from January to September 2022, which revealed 129 incidents in Derbyshire linked to the potential use of taxis in child criminal exploitation (CCE). Furthermore, in 2023, over 87 taxis operating in areas prone to county line drug supply issues were stopped for engagement, highlighting the taxis' role in broader public safety matters.
A key aspect of Foster's argument is the alleviation of personal safety concerns, especially among women and girls, particularly in the Night-Time Economy. This aligns with the multi-agency Derbyshire Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and Action Plan, led by the Commissioner. The implementation of CCTV in taxis is seen as a vital step in this broader strategy to enhance public safety and trust in taxi services.
The campaign led by Commissioner Foster reflects a growing awareness of the need for enhanced safety measures in public transportation, especially in the context of vulnerable groups and crime prevention. The decision by the North East Derbyshire District Council may serve as a precedent for other local authorities in Derbyshire, potentially leading to a county-wide adoption of mandatory CCTV in taxis.
Commissioner Forster said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe in a taxi, wherever they are and at whatever time of day or night. I am confident that the introduction of compulsory CCTV in taxis will have a positive impact on the police’s ability to tackle crime and capture offenders where crime does occur. This will reduce the fear of crime which, through my continued discussions with residents, is shared by many members of the public.
“I will continue to call on Derbyshire’s local authorities to adopt this approach. It delivers numerous benefits to passengers, the police and the taxi operators.
“Public safety is paramount and any practical steps we can take to reduce risk or vulnerability must be fully embraced because they have the potential to save lives. I call on all our local authorities to consider the serious merits of this proposal and voice their support through the official channels.”
DCI Matt Croome, Missing and Exploitation Manager at Derbyshire Constabulary, who also contributed to the Commissioner’s consultation response, said: “I feel the consultation around mandated CCTV in taxis is an extremely positive step to protecting vulnerable people from serious organised crime and exploitation and strengthening the safety within our communities. Derbyshire Constabulary have already seen first-hand, how evidence from in-vehicle CCTV can help bring to justice the controlling minds of county line drug gangs, whilst allowing the police and partner agencies to identify and safeguard vulnerable people.
“It is also key that taxi and private car drivers feel safe when undertaking their jobs, and they are afforded the added security to deter criminal gangs who may want to use coercion, intimation, or violence to persuade drivers to traffic illegal drugs and people.”