Taxi drivers have given a mixed reaction to a proposal to make CCTV mandatory in vehicles in Richmondshire, welcoming the extra protection it will give cabbies, but saying the £500 cost will be difficult to swallow.
Richmondshire District Council’s licensing committee will meet on Tuesday to consider launching a consultation with both the public and Hackney carriage and private hire drivers over the proposal, which follows cameras being made compulsory in the vehicles by a number of other North Yorkshire authorities.
The most recent of these has been Richmondshire’s neighbouring authority Craven District Council, which has delayed making CCTV mandatory within vehicles due to Covid, after a lengthy process of consultation and agreeing a list of suppliers.
Richmondshire’s proposal comes more than three years after a Department for Transport review called for CCTV in all cabs, which it argued would deter abuse of drivers and fare evasion as well as protect passengers.
Mandating CCTV has been seen by some authorities as a preventative measure to protect both passengers and drivers, serving as a deterrent to offences by encouraging people to mind their behaviour.
A report to the licensing committee states CCTV units cost from £500, which “may well be a financial restriction for operators who have several vehicles”.
It states while the council would become the data operator for each
of the CCTV units, due to concerns over people’s privacy their introduction would require a data protection impact assessment.
Ahead of the meeting some taxi drivers said they remained undecided if the action was necessary in Richmondshire as there were relatively few issues in the largely rural area.
One experienced Richmond-based driver, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t know where this idea has even come from, no one has mentioned it to us. It must be something the council wants to implement and maybe we won’t really get a say in it anyhow.
“It could protect the driver as much as the passenger, so it’s not a bad thing. If anyone makes an accusation you have a little bit of back-up then. Not everyone tells the truth nowadays, so it would be nice to have a bit of proof.”
Another driver, who operates in the eastern side of the district, said the cost of installing cameras would be tough for both smaller and larger operators as takings had been hit during the pandemic and remained below 2019 levels.
He said: “The council already places quite a burden on operators to maintain their vehicles to a very high standard, so I can see bills of several thousand pounds for this being something the larger taxi firms would really not appreciate.”