UK taxis could get CCTV

Taxis across north Oxfordshire could be fitted with CCTV cameras by the end of this summer, after a call by drivers to improve security and safety.

It is hoped the Ł17,000 scheme, which would be funded by the Cherwell District Council will reduce crime and disorder against taxi drivers by unruly passengers.

But the scheme has come under fire from one driver who said cabbies would be being used as unofficial law enforcers.

Eighty-six Hackney Carriage drivers will have a chance to opt into the scheme and will only pay for the camera to be installed.

Sgt Larry Johnson, of Thames Valley Police, said: "I think it's very positive because it is going to help us when, and if, any offences occur in taxis.

"In the late evening you have often had drunk and antisocial people being abusive, and disputes over fares. That can escalate and lead to assaults on taxi drivers and these are generally racially agg- ravated."

Sgt Johnson said the cameras would also help catch passengers who ran away from cabs to avoid paying their fare.

However, cab driver Sikander Hayat said: "It is using taxis as police officers.

"In my view there should be adequate means already in the law that people would respect taxi drivers and a taxi driver's duty, and would not cause any crimin- ality whatsoever. However, if the police cannot ensure the safety of taxi drivers the last option is CCTV cameras.

"In this day and age, what with civil rights, I think it is a slap in the face."

The council, which has yet to approve the scheme, would fund the cost of the cameras through the licensing budget and a Ł5,000 subsidy from the Government.