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CCTV cameras to be installed in city's taxis

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."

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