Taxi CCTV will remain in place while the council awaits a response from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following a ‘constructive’ meeting.
The Warrington Guardian reports that council bosses and the ICO met in September following concerns surrounding potential breaches of data protection. Discussions were in relation to when licensed vehicles are being operated for private use.
Cabbies across Warrington were ordered to fit vehicles with CCTV by the authority to provide additional protection to verbal abuse, assaults and malicious complaints, with the installation process beginning in June.
But some have continued to criticise the move. One of the issues raised has been the ‘constant recording’ in vehicles, with the camera remaining on for 15 minutes after the engine switches off.
The ICO has the power to carry out a criminal prosecution or a non-criminal enforcement against organisations, if required, but the authority has confirmed the current measures will remain in place – at least until it gets a response from the independent body.
A council spokesman said: “Public safety is of paramount importance and we are committed to having CCTV in our taxi fleet to ensure that customers are better protected.
“We had a very constructive meeting with the ICO where we submitted further information to address some of the concerns raised. We are now awaiting the outcome of their deliberations, but in the interim will continue to operate the scheme.
“It is worth pointing out that, as well as the public, the vast majority of taxi drivers support this initiative, in terms of the protection it gives them from potential abuse and malicious complaints.”
The Data Protection Act gives the public right to see information held about them and also sets out rules which operators must follow when they gather, store and release CCTV images of individuals.
Anybody has the right to see CCTV images of themselves and can ask for a copy. If this is done, the organisation must provide a copy within 40 calendar days of the ‘subject access request’, although it could come at a cost of up to £10 – the maximum charge set by Parliament.
A number of tools are available to the ICO for taking action to ‘change the behaviour’ of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information.
They include criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
The commissioner also has the power to serve a penalty notice on a data controller.
An ICO spokesman said: “The Data Protection Act protects the public by setting out rules that personal data must be handled fairly and lawfully.”