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Sexual requests and abusive passengers highlighted during ‘CCTV in cabs’ row

today14 September 2022 1

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Almost 200 serious incidents involving taxis have been revealed by Derbyshire police. But despite this council bosses believe CCTV cameras are not needed in Derby cabs.

One incident alleges a taxi driver “asked for sexual favours” and another alleges that a taxi driver drink-drove and swerved on a road. Several incidents suggest taxi drivers were being abused and threatened by passengers.

However, despite the 176 reports made between February 1 and August 22 this year, council bosses believe there is not enough evidence to warrant CCTV cameras being installed in Derby taxis for the benefit of drivers and passengers. Derby City Council is only able to mandate the use of CCTV in taxis and private hire vehicles “if it can demonstrate that it is a proportionate response to local issues which can be justified”. Some councils, including North East Derbyshire District Council, have a mandatory condition for the fitting of CCTV in taxis.

Derby City Council’s licensing committee will decide at a meeting on Thursday (September 15) whether the city’s Hackney vehicles and other private hire vehicles should have CCTV cameras installed in them or not. The decision follows a public consultation carried out on the subject in which the majority of people who took part said it was “highly likely” that placing CCTV in taxis would have a positive effect in terms of safety.

As part of the research carried out ahead of the decision, Derbyshire police released details of incidents involving cabs across the county in the last six months. But the information only gives minute details of the call made at the time, it does not detail where the incidents happened and what happened following the call.

Incidents reported to police include:

  • “Whilst on a journey, customer throws up inside taxi, driver tells them to get out, customer becomes violent, threatens driver and smacked car.

  • “Yellow cab taxi driver threatening another driver (road rage)”

  • “Aggressive customer, taxi driver refuses to take him to destination.”

  • “Taxi driver asks for sexual favours instead of money to pay for journey.”

  • “There is a drunk male in my taxi being abusive saying he’s going to punch me and refusing to pay.”

  • “Report of a taxi driver drink driving, swerving over lanes and driving fast and then really slow.”

  • “Robbery – customer tries to take driver’s mobile phone and popped two tyres with what driver believes is a knife.”

  • “Taxi driver locking customer inside cab refusing to let them go inside and get cash from their house.”

But despite the concerning and serious nature of the reports, Derby City Council officers feel there is not yet enough evidence to warrant taxis having CCTV cameras installed and are recommending the licencing committee come to the same conclusion. The council says some of the police incidents “may relate to out-of-town vehicles over which we have no power at the moment”. Officers also say the data is limited, showing a log of calls “and not specific events and that anyone could have made those calls”.

A council report says: “Officers have evaluated the data and are of the opinion that the data collected does not show that there are local circumstances within Derby which indicate that the installation of CCTV would benefit users and/or drivers taking into account any potential privacy issues at this time. The subject, however, is fluid and can be revisited should the situation change or trends identified.”

Should the committee decide there is a need for CCTV cameras in taxis then it is likely to come at a big cost to taxi drivers themselves with an earlier report on the matter stating it would cost in the region of £500 per vehicle. Maddy Ahmed, owner of Derby taxi firm PJ Cars, feels CCTV cameras in taxis are needed. He said: “Having CCTV provides security for everyone in the taxi – the driver and the passengers. If someone wants to commit a crime in a taxi then a camera may stop them from doing so.

“The police have got 176 reports but there are many incidents that go unreported – that’s one of the biggest issues we face. Cost is also problem because taxi drivers are struggling as it is these days with everything going up.”

The idea of CCTV cameras in taxis and private hire vehicles was first introduced as a part of the Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Standards released by the Government in 2020. The regulations suggested all licensing authorities should consult to ascertain whether or not there are circumstances which indicate that CCTV in taxis would benefit users and/or drivers – taking into account any potential privacy issues.

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