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South Cambs taxis told you must have CCTV

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All taxi and private hire vehicles in South Cambridgeshire will be obliged to have CCTV fitted – but with one notable exemption.

South Cambridgeshire District Council licensing committee agreed to exclude executive hire vehicles.

The committee heard there had been no reported crimes or incidents related to executive hire and did not expect any.

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“In addition, due to the nature of contract hire, executive drivers are much less likely to transport vulnerable persons and do not generally work in the night-time economy, as such this part of the sector is deemed a lower risk,” said a report to the committee.

“In addition, the typical executive hire trade is made up of 75-80% repeat corporate customers who book their journeys well in advance, and are therefore known to the companies and drivers, and are not undertaking the higher risk late night city centre pick-ups.

“For those reasons, requiring executive hire proprietors to install CCTV is not proportionate or suitably evidenced.

“Legal services have confirmed they agree with this assessment.”

However, the committee agreed to implement a “phased and manageable approach” for CCTV in hackney carriage and private hire vehicles.

“Any grant of a vehicle licence or renewal of an existing licensed vehicle must be fitted with CCTV with effect from 1 April 2023 (date application submitted to the licensing authority), which would see all vehicles installed with CCTV by 1 April 2024,” says a motion agreed by the committee.

“Where a fault of the CCTV system is identified that this must be reported to the licensing authority within 24 hours, and if the fault is not rectified within 5 working days, the vehicle will be suspended until the CCTV equipment is fully operational.”

The new policy follows work originally conducted in November which would have been CCTV required in taxis required by March 2021.

However, that requirement was lifted because of the pandemic.

Councillors were advised originally that the Department of Transport had insisted that imposition of a blanket policy to attach CCTV as a condition was “likely to give rise to concerns about the proportionality of such an approach and will therefore require an appropriately strong justification and must be kept under regular review”.

The council at the time felt they did not have sufficient evidence to mandate that CCTV but had agreed that the imposition of the requirement was appropriate.

Since then, the council has considered data relating to incidents within licensed hackney carriage and private hire vehicles.

They have studied incidents reported to them and to crime/incident reports force-wide received from Cambridgeshire Police.

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The council feels there is now “adequate justification to mandate the installation of CCTV in licensed vehicles”.

The installation costs have been estimated at between £75 to £100 for a single camera system, and £100-£180 for a two-camera system, with units costing around £320 for a single camera unit with one panic button, to around £400 to £500 for a two-camera unit with two panic buttons.

One company have advised that they estimate an installation could take up to one day to complete and can provide 6 installers.

The other company are intending to use local installers, and it is anticipated that once trained, they could install CCTV in up to 4 vehicles per day, so with 2 installers, this could potentially install 40 units per week.

Another provider has advised that they can provide a Cambridge based installation service and could install a two-camera system within two hours at a cost of £120 to £180.

In addition, car entertainment system installers have been contacted, and have confirmed they should be able to install any approved CCTV system.

 “In light of this, there should be suitable provision of installers over a phased approach,” says the council.

As CambsNewsOnline recently reported, taxi drivers across Cambridgeshire were the victims of 55 offences inside their vehicles in the year to February 2022 – including assaults, threats to kill, and religious/race “aggressive” criminal damage/fear.

The statistics have been compiled by South Cambridgeshire District Council and show that Peterborough – with 35 reported incidents – has easily the most offences.

By contrast no taxi driver in East Cambridgeshire reported any incidents and there were only two such incidents in Fenland.

Cambridge City Council reported 13 incidents within taxis, South Cambridgeshire had five such incidents.

There are no figures, however, for Huntingdonshire.

Of the 55 reported case, six were for injury assaults, two for theft/robbery, and two for threats to kill.

There were also 16 cases of customers making off without payment.

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