Sunderland taxis could have to have CCTV under new rules being considered

Taxi drivers could be forced to install CCTV under an overhaul of rules being considered by city leaders.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 9:07 pm
Photo credit : Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Sunderland City Council are preparing to start work on a review of all policies and guidelines private transport workers have to comply with.

As well bringing together several existing sets of regulations into ‘one concise document’, it would also take into account new government guidance, part of which now covers surveillance in vehicles.

“CCTV is a matter for a decision following consultation – some councils have introduced that already but others have not,” said Steve Wearing, senior licensing officer at Sunderland City Council.

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“It’s something for the council and the [licensing] committee to consider as part of the overall consultation arrangement, whether there should be a mandatory requirement for CCTV in all vehicles.

“At the moment it’s not mandatory, it is optional and subject to data controls, but it is something which could be considered.”

Wearing was speaking at this morning’s (Monday, September 28) meeting of the city council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The council’s licensing regime for ‘Private Hire and Hackney Carriage’ drivers covers areas including ‘knowledge’ tests, medical assessments, insurance and rules on convictions or police cautions.

A new set of regulations issued by the Department for Transport in July are supposed to impose a new set of minimum national standards, which councils are expected to implement ‘unless there is a compelling local reason not to’.

Guidance on CCTV says local authorities need to consider whether compulsory vehicle cameras should include audio recording.

Bosses should also take into account that some cars are used for personal, as well as business, use by their drivers, meaning there should also be the option for surveillance to be disabled.

However, adopting such rules would also make the council legally responsible for any footage and civil servants have warned that ‘failure to comply’ with data protection rules may mean it cannot be used as evidence in court.

It adds all passengers would then have to be made aware if CCTV was in operation in the vehicle, especially if it includes audio recording as it is ‘considered to be more privacy intrusive’.

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