Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones has called for all licensing authorities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to make CCTV mandatory in Hackney carriages and taxis (private hire vehicles).
The Commissioner has submitted a deputation to be heard at the Gosport Regulatory Board meeting on Wednesday 26 July where proposed amendments to taxi licensing requirements will be discussed.
The deputation comes following the conviction of a taxi driver in Southampton in May 2023 who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in his cab.
The police discovered footage on the mandatory CCTV camera installed in the car, which showed footage of the serious sexual assault leading to the conviction of the driver. The camera evidence resulted in a guilty plea preventing the victim from the added ordeal of a trial.
At the beginning of June, Commissioner Donna Jones wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP, to ask him to review the statutory licensing guidance for local authorities, and to consider mandating CCTV in taxis and private hire vehicles nationally.
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.”
The government published its taxi and private hire vehicle best practice guidance in March 2022.
It states that, ‘All licensing authorities should consult to identify if there are local circumstances which indicate that the installation of CCTV in vehicles would have either a positive or an adverse net effect on the safety of taxi and private hire vehicle users, including children or vulnerable adults, and taking into account potential privacy issues’ (Page 27 – 7.9)
Whilst acknowledging that… ‘only a small minority of licensing authorities have so far mandated all vehicles to be fitted with CCTV systems, the experience of those authorities that have, has been positive for both passengers and drivers.’ (Page 27 – 7.10)
It goes on to state evidential benefits of CCTV may increase the level of reporting, encouraging those who felt that without CCTV evidence, they would not be believed.
Commissioner Jones concluded: “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.”
(Source: Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner)