TAXIS in Oxford could have large numbers stuck on their roofs so they can be seen by police and CCTV operators.

Police officers said taxis were occasionally used by criminals and large numbers on the roofs would make them easier to track down in a chase.

They pitched the idea at a meeting with representatives from the city taxi trade last week, but were met with a mixed reaction.

If it goes ahead, police believe they could be the first force in the country to pioneer the idea.

Alan Woodward, secretary of the City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Cab Association, said: “Drivers were concerned paint work might start to deteriorate and were concerned it would devalue their cars.

“There needs to be some more investigation done into the type of material that’s going to be used.”

He added the numbers could leave a dull area on the vehicles’ roofs and they would have to be re-sprayed before being sold.

Mr Woodward said drivers were also concerned if numbers went missing or peeled off police might trace the wrong car by mistake.

Police cars and ambulances have numbers on their roofs already.

Det Sgt John Linsdell came up with the idea, and Oxford City Council is looking to take it forward in conjunction with local taxi companies.

The numbers could cost as little as £12, he said.

Det Sgt Linsdell said: “We would like to do it with the co-operation of the trade and with the support of our partners. I have taken the idea to the trade and asked them to consider the issues.

“Personally, I think it would be a good idea. People who commit serious crimes may leave the scene in a taxi or private hire car and this would assist us to trace them at an early stage of the enquiry.

“The police helicopter and CCTV services would be able to see the vehicles clearly.”

Det Sgt Linsdell said at the moment it could take time to trace the car a suspect got into, but being able to identify the vehicle immediately would increase chances of the crime being solved.

He also said CCTV in the city did not always pick up number plate details.

He said: “I can think of two cases last year that my team dealt with where serious offences took place and taxis were part of the investigation. If we had been able to identify the taxis at an early stage the chances of success would have improved.”

Julian Alison, Oxford City Council’s licensing team leader, said: “Oxford City Council’s licensing team is working with the police and local taxi companies to look at taking this forward.

“We are interested in assisting any initiative that will help make Oxford a safer place to visit, work and live in.”