What's The Deal With CCTV in Taxis?

November 25, 2020
James Parkinson
James Parkinson

CCTV is a contentious issue in the taxi and private hire industry. Whilst it is undeniably an asset for criminal investigations, the data protection implications cannot be ignored. Some licensing authorities have this as a compulsory requirement but you should follow their lead?

CCTV cameras

The number of taxi drivers with CCTV cameras in their cabs is on the rise, but should you install it? Is it even legal to record in your cab? Is it compulsory? Legislation surrounding the recording of individuals can be confusing. Depending on how it’s done and your licensing authority, the answer could be yes or no for any of those questions.

Should I install CCTV?

If you’re a current licence holder and you don’t have CCTV installed, you probably don’t need to worry. If your licensing authority requires this, they will make you aware during the application process.

Is CCTV even legal?

The Information Commissioners (ICO) view is that in most instances continuously recording CCTV in a cab is unlawful. Capturing people on video is considered extremely intrusive and is subject to strict data protection laws (GDPR). The key thing here is the word ‘continuous’. If drivers feel the need to install CCTV in their cabs it should only be used when on a job. The ICO argues that whilst working it would be appropriate and proportionate to run CCTV. Other than this, cameras should remain switched off.  

If you do choose to use CCTV when it isn’t mandatory, you are responsible for the correct usage and storage of that data. The ICO outline best practice here.

Is CCTV compulsory?

The short answer is no.

But whilst it’s not compulsory everywhere yet, statutory guidance does state authorities should consider its use. The Department for Transport (DfT) acknowledge that ‘CCTV can provide invaluable insights…’ into incidents. Their view is that CCTV can protect drivers and passengers by:

- deterring and preventing the occurrence of crime;
- reducing the fear of crime;
- assisting the police in investigating incidents of crime;
- assisting insurance companies in investigating motor vehicle accidents.

Licensing authorities are asked to consider if local circumstances suggest that having CCTV as part of the condition of a licence will have a positive effect. DfT and the Local Government Association (LGA) both stress that consultation in the driver community is essential.  

At this point, only a small minority of authorities have imposed this rule. Mainly those that have experienced cases of child exploitation.  

If your licensing authority is considering making any changes don’t panic! Councils will carry out extensive consultation with drivers and operators before proposing any changes. If they do decide mandatory CCTV is required, this will be proposed clearly and publicly with plenty of time for the industry to become compliant

If you are unsure about anything in this article, or how the law applies to you, contact your licensing authority.

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