Call to improve women's safety with CCTV requirement in all Hampshire taxis

CALLS have been made for all taxi drivers to have CCTV installed as a mandatory requirement.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:55 am

Currently Gosport council does not insist on drivers having cameras in their vehicles.

This is being challenged by former police officer and Tory Gosport councillor Lesley Meenaghan who wants all boroughs to follow Portsmouth and Southampton’s lead in making CCTV a requirement.

She said this will better protect women who may be preyed upon in taxis, and also drivers who are assaulted.

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Councillor Lesley Meenaghan

Cllr Meenaghan said: ‘I am aware from my previous role as a neighbourhood sergeant in Hampshire police this position of trust can be abused by a very small minority of individuals who sexually assault these vulnerable, drunken females.

‘I suspect like a lot of sexual assaults there is underreporting of this crime – not least due to the victim being drunk and recollection being hazy.

‘As a local and county councillor, and a mother of a young female, these concerns are very real and worrying.’

She has won support from crime commissioner Donna Jones in her campaign.

Ms Jones said: ‘I am really pleased to support Cllr Meenaghan in her campaign for CCTV to be mandatory in taxis.

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‘Taxi safety is not only of concern for many women and girls, but taxi drivers themselves are frequently targets of abuse.

‘Any initiative that helps keep drivers and passengers safe is a good thing.’

Gosport Borough Council confirmed the CCTV issue is ‘being considered currently’.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We hope to consult on the matter to inform the revision of our Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy, which should happen early next year.’

Phil Cox, who owns Hardway Cabs in Gosport and has six cars, said he is supportive but the cost could deter drivers from an industry that has already seen many leave over Covid.

He said it could cost him up to £3,600 to fit CCTV in all vehicles.

‘I think it’s a very, very good thought and I’d be one of those people who would fully support it – but if it was subsidised in some way from a council budget,’ he said.

‘If they want it they’ve got to be prepared to back it a little bit.’

He added: ‘It’s a good thing – it’s the safety of the driver, there are more drivers being assaulted.

‘You’ve got women that travel alone – there could be a situation where a driver’s accused of something, and obviously you have young children – a lot of firms do school runs.’

Portsmouth has revoked two licences this year, while Gosport has revoked none.

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