Surveillance Camera Commissoner response to the Department for Transport consultation on taxis


Surveillance Camera Commissioner consultation response to the Department for Transport consultation on statutory guidance for taxi and private hire vehicles licensing authorities.

1. The Surveillance Camera Commissioner welcomes the opportunity to provide input in to this consultation on statutory guidance for licensing authorities with regard to taxis. He has worked with the Department for Transport in development of the draft guidance that was issued for consultation.

2. The Commissioner recognises that it refers local authorities to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PoFA) s.33(5) sets out that they must pay due regard to the code. It is also encouraging that the guidance refers to a number of the tools the Commissioner has issued to help organisations comply with the 12 guiding principles in the code. As relevant authorities under PoFA, local authorities must be made aware that if they do not pay due regard to the code this is admissible as evidence in court. The Crown Prosecution Service revised their Disclosure Manual in December 2018 to reflect this.

3. That said blanket licencing may be disproportionate and should only be used where there is a strong justification as set out in paragraph 1.15 of the code:

When a relevant authority has licensing functions and considers the use of surveillance camera systems as part of the conditions attached to a licence or certificate, it must in particular have regard to guiding principle one in this code. Any proposed imposition of a blanket requirement to attach surveillance camera conditions as part of the conditions attached to a licence or certificate is likely to give rise to concerns about the proportionality of such an approach and will require an appropriately strong justification and must be kept under regular review.

4. The Commissioner is aware of the blanket requirement for taxis in Rotherham to have CCTV installed. This was one of a number of measures implemented following the child abuse issues in the town where taxis were used to transport a number of the victims. Here there was persuasive evidence to argue sufficient justification but the Commissioner would not expect widespread installation of CCTV in taxis without well evidenced justifications. The local authority’s Senior Responsible Officer for compliance with PoFA and the code will be able to advise on justification requirements for CCTV.

5. Furthermore, CCTV in taxis typically also records audio (as well as video). The recording of conversations is extremely intrusive and requires strong justification as set out in paragraph 3.3.2 of the code:

Any proposed deployment that includes audio recording in a public place is likely to require a strong justification of necessity to establish its proportionality. There is a strong presumption that a surveillance camera system must not be used to record conversations as this is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified.

6. A key part in the process for justifying a surveillance camera system is consultation. The Commissioner would expect to see clear evidence of public consultation before any final decision about installation is made. This consultation should involve members of the public, taxi drivers, police and any relevant regulators.

7. Local authorities must also have completed a data protection impact assessment prior to installation and have consulted their data protection officer and legal teams. There is a surveillance camera specific DPIA template on the Commissioner’s website which was developed in conjunction with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

8. Where it is the case that taxi drivers use the vehicle for their own private use the Commissioner would expect there to be a facility to switch off recording. In addition there must be clear policies and procedures in place regarding how the CCTV system is used and who can access the footage it records and where CCTV systems are IP enabled (connected to the internet) then they must be cyber secure.

9. The Commissioner would recommend that installation of any system should include a full operational requirement which can be achieved by using the Commissioner’s Buyers’ Toolkit and/or Passport to Compliance documents. This will ensure that a system is installed that is fit for purpose and actually delivers footage that can be used in court if required. Whilst the Commissioner appreciates the austere times that local authorities are working in, he would not expect that substandard systems are installed to save money particularly if the justification of the system is passenger and driver safety.

New drive to stop taxis polluting Birmingham city centre

The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring calls on taxi trade to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.

Taxis drivers who leave the engine running and pumping out pollution while waiting in city centre ranks are to be targeted by a new campaign.

The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring has called on the taxi trade to make an effort to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.

But she has admitted it will be difficult to enforce such a measure with fines or bans and instead hopes drivers will turn off their engines voluntarily if prompted by warning signs.

It is estimated that 520 people in Birmingham a year die prematurely as a result of poor air quality and the council has been warned it faces a £60 million fine if it does not tackle pollution.

Measures already being looked at include a city centre Clean Air Zone in which high-polluting lorries, vans and buses will be charged, and controversial new restrictions to reduce the age of licensed taxis and minicabs – getting cleaner and greener vehicles on the roads.

Taxi drivers groups are up in arms over the plans, to be introduced in December. to replace the age limit from 14 years to a new emissions test which more than 500 cars would fail.

Now licensing chiefs are also looking at warning signs in lay-bys, taxi ranks and outside schools to get waiting cars to stop idling.

Cllr Dring (Lab, Oscott) said: “Taxis are among the worst for emissions when they stand and have their engines running.

“We are in talks with regard to the trade clean air act and this is one of the things we will be addressing.

“We have the right to ask any car to turn off their engine while stationary and we are looking to enforce this especially around New Street Station.”

She highlighted Sundridge Primary School in Kingstanding which has put up warning signs for waiting parents. “This is something which could be done across the city.”

And suggested that New Street Station, where taxis spend a long time waiting, could provide a warm waiting area for drivers to reduce the temptation to keep engines running in the winter.


Scarborough Taxi Driver’s Question MOT Changes

Taxi drivers are questioning why Scarborough Borough Council wants to change the way their MOT tests are carried out.

The council is proposing that all MOT’s for taxi’s and private hire vehicles should be done at the councils own facility rather than at independent garages.

The proposed change is contained in the councils ‘Draft Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy’ which has been put out to public consultation. The document regulates the way the industry works in the borough and includes rules about …..

Section 3.4 of the new document states..

All MOT tests and vehicle licence compliance checks shall be carried out at
Scarborough Borough Council’s garage, Dean Road Depot, Dean Road
Scarborough, YO12 7QS. Any MOT tests or licence compliance checks
carried out by any other garage/testing centre on hackney carriage or private
hire vehicles shall not be accepted.

Local taxi driver Will Barraclough says the proposed regulation is unfair

“It’s forcing all taxis to go to the council depot for MOT testing, what this will do is remove the trade from local garages, we thinks that’s £42,000 a year out of the local market, one of the biggest questions is why are they suddenly doing this?”

Will questions what difference the change will make to safety and what message it sends to the public.

“If the council say that the MOT must be done by them, why are they saying that and why is any other garage MOT inadequate, they are all trained by the same governing body – VOSA – everyone is trained the same way, why all of a sudden are local garages inadequate, what sort of reflecting is that going to paint amongst the public? Are they immediately going to think that where they are getting their car MOT’d is inadequate to what the council can offer when in fact it’s the same test.”

Jonathan Bramley, Scarborough Borough Council’s Environment and Regulation Manager said:

“We are aware that the proposed requirement for all private hire and hackney carriage MOT tests and compliance checks to be undertaken at our own depot in Scarborough is of concern to some of those operating in the trade. However it is for good reasons that we are proposing this change. Presently an MOT may be undertaken at any MOT certified garage, anywhere in the country, with the additional compliance checks being undertaken by our licensing officers during a two week period, twice a year. The consistency of existing MOT tests is of concern to us, particularly considering the results from snap inspections we have conducted since October 2015, where faults were found with vehicles which had only recently undergone and passed an MOT test. We do not think this is an acceptable situation for vehicles entrusted with carrying members of the public.

“The revised vehicle testing process we are proposing would combine both test elements into one comprehensive inspection at our depot. Not only will this provide consistency in terms of tests, it will negate the need for drivers to attend separate MOT and compliance visits. It would also allow us to set inspection criteria above that specified in a standard MOT test, for example the testing of fixings and equipment fitted to vehicles that have been modified to carry wheelchairs. At present there is no form of certification that assesses whether such modifications have been undertaken safely and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, so we could improve this significantly.

“We know that for the vast majority of licensed drivers customer safety is of paramount importance, so we hope they can understand that the changes we are proposing are simply a way of us ensuring those same high standards are maintained consistently throughout the borough.

“Consultation on the proposed changes is underway with the local private hire and hackney carriage trades and they have until 9 November to respond to it, after which the council will consider all representations before making a final decision in January next year.”

Here are links to:

The Scarborough Borough Council Public Consultation

The Act Against SBC Taxi MOT Policy Petitiion

The Full Draft Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy


source: Yorkshire Coast Radio

‘Sadiq Khan is discriminating against our drivers’

Uber has called again on its customers to complain en masse to London mayor Sadiq Khan over a package of reforms affecting the taxi sector.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing app developer has even gone as far as branding the plans “discriminatory” and particularly harmful for its many drivers born outside the UK, reports The Guardian.

Khan has outlined a series of policy measures, including £65m in grants for black cab drivers who replace older cars with less polluting vehicles.

The plans will also mean that by 2020 there will be 20 new taxi ranks and that from this year black cabs will have new rights to drive in an additional 20 bus lanes.

Khan also confirmed he will go ahead with proposals to introduce onerous English language tests for minicab drivers, including a written exam. These are currently the subject of a legal challenge by Uber.

Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: “While black cabs will get £65m from the taxpayer, the Mayor is piling extra costs and red tape onto licensed private hire drivers.

“This plan will cost drivers who use Uber hundreds of pounds and thousands may lose their livelihoods as a result. Fewer drivers will mean longer waiting times for passengers.”

Elvidge added: “Many drivers who use Uber are immigrants. They work hard to look after themselves and their families. Driving has given them an opportunity to integrate into their local community.

“The mayor should be supporting these drivers, not penalising them.”

Khan said: “Our new taxi and private-hire action plan will help us deliver a truly world-class service for Londoners and create a vibrant taxi and private-hire market where all providers can continue to flourish.

“From my first day at City Hall I have been determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every passenger in London, while protecting the future of our iconic black cabs that provide a unique and invaluable service for Londoners.”


Tourism Action Plan

Policy paper

Tourism Action Plan

From: Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Tracey Crouch MP

First published: 26 August 2016

Part of: Tourism

This report outlines how the government will be supporting the tourism industry and ensuring the benefits of tourism will be felt across the United Kingdom


Link to plan document


Page 9

Commonsense Regulation

Working in partnership with the Tourism Industry Council, we have identified four areas of regulation where progress can be made to allow tourism businesses to flourish:

• We will seek to deregulate an element of Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licences as soon as parliamentary time allows. This will allow owners of hotels/ attractions to collect visitors from train stations/ ports of entry, without having to apply for PHV licences (operator, vehicle and driver).

Should West Suffolk taxi drivers complete course before getting licence?

The West Suffolk councils are asking people to give their views on whether current and future taxi drivers should have a qualification before being given a licence.

The one being considered is a City and Guilds-recognised BTEC level two which would take around 18 hours to complete.

It would cover issues relating to taxis and private hire vehicles such as health and safety, road safety, customer service, vehicle maintenance, disability awareness and assistance, fares, carrying of luggage and transporting of children and vulnerable people.

Drivers applying for a licence would initially be able to complete the course at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, with other locations potentially being introduced later.

The West Suffolk cabinet members responsible for licensing, Cllr Alaric Pugh and Cllr Lance Stanbury, both support the requirement for a qualification.

In a joint statement, they said:

“Other areas across the country already insist on taxi and private hire drivers being able to demonstrate they understand not just laws relating to driving, but other issues which affect the safety and wellbeing of their passengers.

“They are often in a position where they can spot something unusual or potentially illegal happening, such as human trafficking, for example.

“Learning what to look out for and what to do, especially when it comes to keeping passengers safe, seems to us to be a sensible idea and we would like to know what drivers and passengers think.”

The consultation takes less than five minutes to complete and will run until August 31.

It is available online at and printed copies are available by calling 01284 763233 or 01638 719000.

Read more at:

View sought on council’s new taxi policy

A consultation on the draft policy was given the go-ahead this week by councillors at Licensing Committee. It will run until 22 August.

The council is responsible for licensing hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and their associated proprietors and operators throughout the city.

The aim of the proposed policy is to give a clear statement on how the council will work with operators to protect the public and the environment and deliver a professional, respected and easy to access taxi service for all.

One of the most important elements of the proposed new policy is the objective to license only low emissions taxi vehicles by 2026.

Air quality is poor in a number of locations in the city where there is a concentration of emissions from buses, taxis and service vehicles.

The council’s Air Quality Action Plan last year identified reducing emissions from taxis and buses as one key policy to help improve air quality here.

Incentives to encourage the take-up of low emission taxis, in order to help meet the proposed 2026 targets that are under consideration in the proposed new policy, include:

  • A discount or exemption on fees for drivers of ‘Low Emission Taxis’ (petrol electric hybrids) or ‘Ultra-Low Emission Taxis’ (fully electric);
  • Extending the maximum age limit allowed for taxis if they are fully electric or petrol/electric hybrids;
  • Creating an electric taxi-only rank;
  • Providing a number of taxi-only charging points.

Other initiatives under consideration in the proposed policy include:


  • Making training in safeguarding and disability awareness mandatory for all taxi licence holders;
  • A review of the current medical examination requirements for licensed drivers;
  • Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes or similar devices in taxis.

The current policy, which has been updated from time to time, has been in place since October 2011 and is now due for review.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Chair of Licensing Committee, said: “For a number of residents of the city, as well as people doing business here or visiting, the taxi trade provides an important service.

“It’s the council’s job to provide a taxi service that’s safe, accessible to all and meets demand.

“Low emission taxis are less polluting and have lower operating costs, so it is right that we look at encouraging their take-up by the taxi trade.

“Our draft policy sets out the high standards we expect and I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have their say on the future operation of this important city transport service.”

Residents, visitors, taxi operators and others can take part in the consultation which will be published at: .

Consultation letters to taxi operators and other stakeholders will also be sent out and a trade forum held.

All comments will be taken into account in preparing the final policy and the results of the consultation will be discussed by councillors at the next Licensing Committee on 17 October.


Wychavon District Council – Consultation of Amending Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Policies

Consultation of Amending Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Policies


Following recent discussions with holders of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licences that it issues, Wychavon District Council is currently giving consideration to amending aspects of its policies on the licensing of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles.

Before making any final decisions however, the Council would like to seek the views of licence holders, relevant organisations and the general public on the amendments that are under consideration and therefore have produced a consultation document that I have attached to this email.

Vehicle Policy Consultation Document

If you would like to take part in the consultation please complete the consultation document and return it to;


Wychavon Vehicle Policy Consultation

Worcestershire Regulatory Services

Wyre Forest House

Finepoint Way



DY11 7WF


Alternatively you can return your response by email to

The consultation will be open for responses until 24 June 2016.



Dave Etheridge

Cutting Red Tape


Review into unnecessary regulatory barriers to growth placed on businesses by Local Authorities

The Cutting Red Tape review of Local Authorities is a government review led by the Cabinet Office, DCLG and BIS, working together with other government departments and regulators. We want to identify and remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to growth and associated costs placed on businesses by local authorities, while ensuring necessary protections are maintained, and also gather evidence of where regulation imposes unnecessary or avoidable burdens and costs on local government.

As part of the review, we want to hear from businesses, trade associations, local authorities, and others with an interest in this area. The review will examine any aspects of regulation and the way it is implemented or enforced which could be made simpler, more cost-effective, efficient, proportionate, or consistent.

The review will take into account burdens imposed by planning and building control, construction regulations, food safety, standards and hygiene, environmental protection and health and safety amongst others. Now that the government is reviewing more broadly the implementation and enforcement of regulation by local authorities, it will build on the existing review of Trading Standards going beyond that current review and present all findings and the government response to the findings on Trading Standards alongside the rest of this review. We will also build on and complement issues and evidence in relation to local authorities that emerged from the Cutting Red Tape review into Housebuilding. We will seek evidence on everything from how inspections and visits are conducted and how data is requested through to guidance, advice and how accountable and responsive local authorities are to business needs. However, the scope of the review will not include fees and charges.

You can comment below or alternatively, email us @ This review closes for comment on Thursday 28th April.