Saturday, January 04, 2014
Friday, January 03, 2014
TAXI passengers in Glasgow face being captured on CCTV, with a scheme to target problems from fare disputes to physical assaults expected to be approved next month.
A new policy on CCTV in taxis and private hire cars has been prepared and issued to trade representatives, Police Scotland and Scotland's Information Commissioner.
Glasgow City Council tried to introduce CCTV in taxis in 2009 but withdrew the idea after the Information Commissioner recommended not taking it forward. There had been concerns of potential legal action due to infringement of civil liberties.
The Information Commissioner's Office has now been sent the new draft policy to consider.
A note to councillors by the authority's head of licensing acknowledges that CCTV in taxis "is potentially more invasive than some other forms of CCTV". It therefore states it is essential any policy "promotes the principles set out in the Data Protection Act".
It adds: "The draft policy sets out a voluntary scheme and will not impose a mandatory requirement on licence holders to install CCTV. The primary focus is on ensuring that passenger safety is not compromised by the installation of the CCTV system."
The move follows a Scottish Government survey which found one in three taxi drivers has been assaulted at work. It would bring Glasgow into line with Manchester, Liverpool, Gateshead and London, as well as East Renfrewshire Council - the first Scottish council to permit them - and Dundee.
A similar scheme is also under consideration in Edinburgh.
Among the safeguards of the Glasgow policy, CCTV systems could not be used to record conversations "as this is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified except in exceptional circumstances".
The draft states the system should not have any sound recording facility where possible. In cases where it does, the audio would only be justified where it is triggered due to a specific threat. Drivers would not be able to view the footage and an access code would be required to see it .
The cameras, three in each vehicle, would cost each driver around £400, with one in the driver's compartment and two recording passengers.
Stephen Flynn, vice-chairman of Glasgow Taxis Ltd, said: "We are pleased the policy is close to fruition. The sooner it can be implemented, the better.
"The safety and well-being of our drivers and customers is paramount and we will support all taxi owners who wish to install appropriate CCTV equipment. Such equipment will provide all parties with a stronger sense of security and the proposed policy will help us ensure minimal impact on customer privacy."
A city council spokesman said: "The 2009 pilot was not followed up on the advice of the Information Commissioner because at that time there was a review of all information issues around the Information Bill.
"In terms of the new potential policy following the consultation between the partners, a report will go to committee early in the New Year where a decision will be taken on its implementation."
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Thank you for the reply from your colleague Leon Daniels concerning the need for TfL to issue 'temporary' licences for taxi drivers whilst they are awaiting DBS or TfL processing.
Leon Daniels states that TfL are unable to so do and that there have been instances where had they done so, offences would have come to light that would have caused that person not to be relicensed.
This response raises the following issues and questions:
1. How many of these offences related to taxi drivers as opposed to PH licensees and if there are any, please supply suitably redacted details of those?
2. The reply in effect states that it is only at renewal of licence that such matters come to the attention of TfL, meaning that any criminal activity that would possibly lead to a revocation of a licence, could remain 'undetected' for the entire validity period of three years.
This, if correct is unacceptable from a public protection viewpoint and I would welcome further clarification.
3. All that is being sought is a temporary licence for drivers of known good character whilst DBS and TfL internal delays are resolved, any Risk Assessment would surely conclude that the public are at little risk from those concerned and it's probably correct that should they suddenly be of a criminal mindset to commit serious offences, whether they are licensed ( temporary or otherwise) as a taxi driver would not act as a deterrent!
In any event, offences committed if serious in nature, should have already led to an examination of that individuals fitness to remain licensed as the police authorities would have notified TfL, unless the situation as queried in point 2 is extant.
It is noted that TfL issue new licences to those who due to recent residency from abroad cannot be checked in any robust fashion yet those who have been checked many times, are prevented from pursuing there lawful business.
4. This issue is causing real and genuine hardship for what appears an unreasonable risk averse attitude from TfL. Other metropolitan
authorities issue just such temporary licences, if they can why cannot TfL.
5. If a TfL member of staff commits or is alleged to have commit an offence they are suspended on full pay pending any outcome. London taxi drivers often with decades of blameless service are being placed out of work for what are bureaucratic and doctrinaire reasons.
I urge you to reconsider.