The Service Director Legal Services will submit a report providing an update of the work of Licensing Officers in appraising the case for the mandatory implementation of CCTV in Licensed Vehicles.
The Service Director Legal Services submitted a report providing an update of the work Licensing Officers had undertaken to appraise the case for the mandatory implementation of CCTV in Licensed Vehicles following the request of Cabinet on the 5th November, 2019 to examine whether or not this was feasible through the development of a business case.
It was noted that Local Government Association Guidance issued in January, 2019 reflected on approaches taken by Authorities that already mandated the use of CCTV Cameras and on the importance of balancing passenger safety and privacy as well as the position of the Information Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner as regulators. It was noted, however, that out of over 300 local authorities across the country, only 12 had a mandatory requirement for CCTV
The Guidance indicated that a number of matters required to be considered when implementing the mandatory use of CCTV and these were outlined within the report. Having considered this Guidance, however, it had been concluded that at present the Service would not be able to put forward a strong evidence base to justify the mandatory introduction of such cameras. Whilst Licensing Officers received a small number of complaints where CCTV would have assisted in helping to resolve issues, this in itself was not considered to be strong enough to justify their mandatory introduction.
The Service had also considered the cost implications, which could be significant for drivers/owners both for purchase, installation and maintenance and whilst CCTV provided an added safeguarding tool for both drivers and passengers it was felt that a strong evidence base was required before a sufficiently robust business case could be brought forward. It was acknowledged that public protection was paramount but it should be recognised and celebrated that there was no identified or pressing need for mandatory CCTV within Barnsley and that its introduction as a mandatory requirement could be seen as being excessively disproportionate.
It was proposed that Licensing Officers would actively monitor and record all requests for service where CCTV in a licensed vehicle would have been beneficial. This would be undertaken over a 12 month period and the results presented to Members for further consideration.
The report engendered a full and frank discussion during which matters of a detailed and general nature were raised and answers given to Members questions where appropriate.
Members noted that as part of the DoT consultation on Taxis and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing, which was to be discussed at the next agenda item, consideration was to be given to the possible introduction of CCTV nationally. If implemented, mandatory requirements would be introduced which, at present were unknown. Members were encouraged to submit their comments on the consultation document to the Licensing Officer who would consolidate them as a formal response on behalf of the Authority. Taking account of this consultation as well as the evidence presented within the report, the general consensus was that whilst the introduction of CCTV would be welcomed there was currently no justification to require it as to do so could leave the Authority open to challenge. This view was not, however, shared by all Members present.
It was noted that a number of drivers had already installed their own CCTV in their vehicles. Several Members felt that drivers should be encouraged rather than mandated to introduce CCTV. It was suggested, however, that such an approach could lead to a ‘two tier’ approach which it was felt was inappropriate given the rigorous procedures in place to ensure that all drivers were fit and proper. Other members disagreed as they felt that this could lead to improvements in service provision and driving standards and that companies/drivers could use this as a marketing tool by being able to demonstrate that they went over and above the legal minimum required by the Authority.
Arising out of the above discussion, reference was also made to the safeguarding training provided for drivers. It was noted that whilst all drivers had received appropriate training and that this was also a mandatory requirement for all new drivers, there was currently no refresher training for existing drivers which, it was felt, should be considered.
RESOLVED that the active monitoring of complaints and investigations by Licensing Officers be approved with a view to assessing the need for the mandatory requirement for CCTV to be installed in all licensed vehicles.