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Union campaigns against councils verdict to make taxi CCTV compulsory

March 5, 2013

A union has begun to campaign against Sheffield City Councils decision to make CCTV compulsory for all taxi and private hire cab drivers in the area.

The pronouncement of making the security cameras mandatory came after a series of violent attacks on taxi drivers in South Yorkshire. A victim of this recent epidemic includes Mr Arshad Mahmood, who was left blind in one eye after he was assaulted by a passenger with a glass bottle near Sheffield City Centre.

The new regulation which would cost taxi drivers around £500 each, has been imposed with the intention of ensuring safer working environment, in particular for those carrying out services late at night and where passengers may be under the influence of alcohol.

However, the GMB union has written to Sheffield Council stating that they will consider taking legal action if this policy isn’t revised and suggests that the decision to install CCTV should be left with to the choice of the individual taxi driver. A spokesperson for GMB also stated, ‘In any event we are also considering organising a large protest by both private hire and black cab drivers in Sheffield to show our dissatisfaction with this decision.”

Will cameras improve safety?

Current Chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association Hafaes Rehman, agrees with the opinion of the GMB in that security camera installation shouldn’t be made mandatory for all but should be a personal choice.

He says, ‘“We’re all adults. If anyone feels it will enhance their safety they should install one, but not have it actually forced on you just because people think it’s a good idea,” he said.

On the other hand Councillor John Robson, the chairman of the council’s licensing committee, described findings of a CCTV trial in 2007 as “overwhelmingly amazing” in its ability to improve driver safety.

He said: “One in seven fares prior to the trial resulted in an incident – whether that was verbal abuse, threats of violence, physical assault, a dispute over the fare, people running off without paying or damage to the taxi.

“During the trial that figure reduced to less than one in 100. Surely the figures speak for themselves.”

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Posted by Tim Crighton