Installing Cameras in Your Taxi Fleet – What are the Rules?

Installing Cameras in Your Taxi Fleet – What are the Rules?

Should you install a security camera in your hackney cab or private hire taxi for your and your passengers’ protection?  Here we look at the issues surrounding this including the pros and cons and how it may affect GDPR and your public and private hire taxi insurance.

Many independent drivers and taxi fleets across the UK have installed CCTV cameras within the interior of public and private hire licensed taxis as a way to prevent crime and to protect drivers and their vulnerable passengers.

Evidence clearly shows that dash cams can help to reduce accidents and provide valuable evidence in the case of any collisions, offering a clear benefit to customers, road users, taxi firms and the drivers. Interiors cameras can also help in resolving payment disputes and prevent abuse and assaults on drivers.

Transport for London states that the purpose of the CCTV system shall be to provide a safer environment for the benefit of the taxi/PHV driver and passengers by:

  • Deterring and preventing the occurrence of crime
  • Reducing the fear of crime
  • Assisting the Police in investigating incidents of crime
  • Assisting insurance companies in investigating motor vehicle accidents

Similarly, taxi fleet managers are looking at installing cameras to lower the instances of private or public hire taxi insurance claims. Cameras improve driver behaviour and offer indisputable evidence of liability, which consequently may help to reduce taxi fleet insurance premiums. Dash cams assist with driver training and adherence to company policy such as not operating a mobile phone when driving or speeding in a restricted zone.

For taxi passengers, the presence of an evidential camera can offer an extra layer of security and protection. Drivers are more likely to obey company policies and drive more prudently. So, should you invest in installing a camera within your taxi fleet or as a public or private hire operator? All of the statistics say you should but before you do you need to bear in mind the four little letters of GDPR.

Is Your Taxi Camera Legal?

General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (GDPR) is the law regulating how companies obtain, store and use the personal data of others. Under GDPR, businesses, including taxi firms and private hire individuals running a taxi business, must have a ‘clearly defined and specific purpose’ for the use of cameras. You can’t simply install a camera. You and your company must prove that the camera is both necessary and proportionate to the problem it addresses, namely driver and passenger security.  And, if, you control the processing of people’s personal data (and that includes their image), the law deems you to be a ‘data controller’.

UK businesses, including taxi fleets, can legally use cameras in the UK, but they must follow strict privacy rules. As with CCTV, or any other surveillance system, images and audio recordings of an individual captured by camera can all be considered as personal data.

And this is where it can get tricky. A data controller’s responsibility is not one to be taken lightly. Under GDPR, the UK’s Information Commissioner's Office can fine companies up to four percent of turnover for a breach of the legislation. In 2018 alone, the UK government issued a total of £44,221,000 in GDPR fines.

Passengers also have a right to privacy, and they must be informed that CCTV is in operation in the taxi. Signage including the name and contact details of the data controller should be fitted at all vehicle access points. If possible, customers should also be notified of dash cam use during the booking process.

Taxi companies can publish a privacy statement on their company website. It must be written in clear and plain language and explain why personal data is being collected, how long the data will be retained for, and who the data will be shared with. Recordings must not be retained for any longer than is necessary, and for a maximum of 28 days – unless there are exceptional circumstances such as an insurance claim or a criminal investigation.

And it can affect drivers too. The law states that the processing of personal data should be necessary for its purpose and proportionate. So, where a taxi is being used by a driver for their own private or domestic purpose such as a school drop off or hospital visit, continuous recording is likely to be unlawful, unfair and excessive under data protection legislation and in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Below are some useful links to provide you with information on installing a camera, staying safe and, above all, legal.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/surveillance-camera-code-of-practice

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/surveillance-camera-commissioner

GDPR

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/accountability-and-governance/data-protection-impact-assessments/

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