Updated: Jul 29
Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones has called for the introduction of mandatory CCTV cameras in Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles (PHVs) across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The initiative would aim to enhance the safety of passengers and drivers, following a recent conviction of a taxi driver involved in a serious sexual assault case.
Commissioner Jones has submitted a deputation to be heard at the Gosport Regulatory Board meeting held on Wednesday 26 July. The meeting will discuss proposed amendments to taxi licensing requirements, including the compulsory installation of CCTV cameras.
The need for this change stems from a May 2023 incident in Southampton, where a taxi driver was convicted of sexually assaulting a female passenger. Crucial evidence leading to the conviction was captured on the mandatory CCTV camera installed in the vehicle. The footage, depicting the serious sexual assault, resulted in a guilty plea from the driver, sparing the victim from the additional trauma of a trial.
In June, Commissioner Donna Jones addressed a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP, urging him to review the existing statutory licensing guidance for local authorities and consider implementing nationwide regulations mandating CCTV cameras in taxis and private hire vehicles.
The introduction of mandatory CCTV cameras in taxis and PHV may add another layer of security and act as a deterrent against criminal activities. Recording incidents in real-time, these cameras can serve as crucial evidence in investigations and ensure that justice is served swiftly and efficiently.
However, critics working in the taxi industry are concerned about the high costs involved to implement equipment, coming at a time of economic uncertainty and rising living costs. There are also worries around data compliance and privacy from both drivers and passengers.
Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones said: “Both of the cities in Hampshire already require CCTV cameras in taxis. Portsmouth and Southampton licensing conditions require CCTV to be fitted before a taxi licence is issued. Today I am calling for all Councils in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to follow suit with Gosport being the first to consider this issue.
“The victim in the Southampton case could not recall the attack, but thanks to the camera installed inside the cab, a dangerous sexual predator has been removed from our communities.
“I strongly believe there are lessons to be learnt from horrific local incidents like this, just as much as the high profile cases we have witnessed over the last two years.”
“Cllr Lesley Meenaghan contacted me to ask about other areas and enquire about what more could be done to keep women safe.
“It’s clear where cameras are mandatory they are making people safer, and they are providing the police the evidence they need to convict those who are a danger on our streets. There is also the protection that cameras provide to drivers who on occasion are victims of crime too.”
Commissioner Jones added: “Whilst there are legitimate concerns about surveillance and data protection, I believe the safety of women outweigh risks to privacy, which is why I am asking for all local authorities to enforce these measures.”