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Drivers campaign against taxi CCTV
A HUNDRED cab drivers have signed a petition against controversial plans to film all conversations in Oxford’s taxis.
They have handed the petition to Oxford City Council over its plan for video and audio recording in the city’s 665 taxis from April and comes as the Information Commissioner continues to review whether the scheme is lawful.
The council says that the scheme would provide greater safety for both drivers and passengers.
Petition organiser and private hire driver Khalil Ahmed, 51, said: “The overwhelming view is that the taxi drivers are against the cameras.
“To me it is an invasion of my, my family’s and my customers’ privacy and our safety.”
The High Wycombe part-time driver said customers are against the plans.
He said: “They do not want their privacy invaded.”
The recordings could only be accessed on request by police or council licensing officers for a specific crime or licensing issue, the council has said.
The plans, approved last year, were backed by the City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Cab Association, which was not available for comment.
Yet Mr Ahmed said: “There are enough laws, there are enough safeguards and there are enough CCTV cameras in Oxford as it is.”
Firms record where the fare was picked up and dropped off and any telephone numbers for security, said Mr Ahmed.
He said drivers are prepared to “chip in” to challenge it in the courts.
Cab firm boss Kevin May lost a legal challenge against Southampton City Council, which is running the same recording system, in December. A district judge said he did not have the power to throw out the plan but said he considered it unlawful and it could be heard at the High Court.
Part-time taxi driver Mohsin Cheema, 30, said: “Most of our local customers are saying they will feel uncomfortable with someone watching them.”
Recording will start when the key is turned in the ignition and stop 30 minutes after it is turned off. Systems must be in place by March 2015.
Clark Brundin, chairman of the council’s hackney carriages and private hire licensing sub committee, said: “The original request for having audio visual recording came from the Hackney carriage and private hire people.
“You might find a single isolated private hire driver who doesn’t like the idea but the companies are keen these should be in cars.”
But the Information Commissioner will have the final say, he said, adding: “I can’t tell you absolutely positively that it is going to go ahead.”
Commissioner spokesman Greg Jones said: “We don’t feel that audio recording is necessary all the time.”