UK to put CCTV in Taxis
In the United Kingdom, taxi companies and drivers have decided to take the next step towards their own safety and security. There is currently a plan underway to have CCTV security surveillance cameras installed into taxi cabs around London. This would mean greater protection from attackers and debilitated passengers.
The Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership believes that with the introduction of these cameras, there would be a reduction in incidents ranging from disputes over cab fares to the occasional violent attack against a driver. The proposal for this plan will go before city council sometime this year. If the council approves of the plan, then cab companies would be given the option of installing the CCTV security surveillance cameras in their taxis.
According to the plan, there would be three cameras per cab, with one in the driver’s side of the vehicle and two more in the passenger’s side. These cameras would cost around $400 per cab to install.
Les McVay, chair of the Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership and secretary of City Cabs, believes that many of the weekly problems faced by taxi drivers could be avoided if there was CCTV in the cabs. The CCTV would act as a deterrent to prevent customers from acting wildly and to catch those customers who do.
He released a public stamen, saying: “I have done night shift for 30-odd years and I have had cracked ribs and a broken wrist. You go into all these areas without thought. CCTV would help to protect the driver and the public. It would defuse a lot of hotspot situations – if somebody knows they are going to be recorded, they might think twice about taking the incident further. We are not trying to force this on anybody, it would just be an option for license holders.”
The Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership hopes to have a decision from the council before the end of the year and pointed out that taxi drivers themselves would not be able to view the CCTV footage, which would be passed to a “third party” such as police or the city council. A special code would be required to access the footage, which would be deleted after around 30 days.
The option for CCTV in black cabs has been highlighted in the ELTP’s first manifesto setting out its goals for Edinburgh’s taxi service over the next five years, and sent to all prospective council candidates ahead of next month’s local elections.
Also included is a regular fare review, better regulation of taxi advertising and a review of taxi ranks.
Mr. McVay said several cities south of the Border, including London, already had CCTV operating in taxis, and if the proposal was approved by the city council, it was likely there would be an initial pilot project.
Passengers would be made aware that the CCTV was in operation inside the vehicle via a notice.
James Kelly, from Livingston, who has been a taxi driver for more than 20 years, agreed that a CCTV system could be a taxi driver’s “best friend”.
He was assaulted by a would-be passenger last summer after refusing to pick him up in Fountainbridge because he was eating takeaway food.
The 45-year-old said: “He punched me through the window on the side of the face. I had to drive away – if you get out of the taxi, you’re opening yourself up to more confrontation. If I had that incident on film, I could have gone to the police.”