PASSENGERS hiring any of the 1000-plus fleet of taxis in Glasgow could soon be caught on closed-circuit television.
The move, which is designed to enhance the safety of drivers and the public, could be implemented by the end of the year and extended into the hundreds of private hire cars also operating in Glasgow.
It comes on the back of a Scottish Government survey that found one in three taxi drivers had been assaulted at work.
It also follows the case of London taxi driver John Worboys, who was recently jailed for drugging female passengers by spiking champagne and then sexually assaulting them. It is believed he was responsible for almost 100 attacks.
However, although the CCTV move has been welcomed by the trade it has been condemned by Green Party councillors in Glasgow and city MSP Patrick Harvie, who said the party “remains completely opposed to creeping video surveillance of this sort”.
Last week reports claimed some 500,000 requests for access to private e-mail and phone data came from public bodies in 2008 and that this included 1500 requests from UK councils.
Ahead of any implementation, Glasgow City Council has warned the move could lead to court action against it under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Licensing chiefs are now set to begin a six-week consultation with the Information Commissioner, Strathclyde Police and representatives of the taxi and private hire car trades to discuss how the scheme could operate over civil liberties.
One issue the council will have to confront is the type of system that would be used and the assurance it could not be tampered with by third parties, including drivers, and making sure recorded images were not able to be changed.
Trials in East Renfrewshire were carried out this year, including one in the cab of a driver who had been seriously assaulted while working in January.
When a vehicle was fitted with a CCTV system, orange A5-size warning notices were fixed to the vehicle and the drivers asked to ensure all passengers travelling in their vehicles were informed of the operation of the CCTV system.
No complaints have been received about the use of the systems and the council claims the scheme appears to have been welcomed.
Robert Dunabie, of Glasgow TOA Taxis, said: “This would improve the overall feeling of security within the cab but it would have to be a system drivers could not tamper with.”