A SAFETY conscious taxi firm has set out on a mission to be the first with CCTV in all of its cars
Those hopping into Royal Cars will be filmed as soon as the ignition starts, in a bid to make it the 'safest taxi company in Oxfordshire'.
Nick Breakspear, the business development manager at Royal Cars, said: "So long as the car is on, the CCTV will be on too.
"It will be put on the windscreen in the middle – like a dash-cam footage but looking in and out of the car.
"The camera will be switched on all the time and passengers can't opt-out. Footage will be kept for a month, and it will detect the driver and passengers as well.
"It's difficult to say what the camera will be looking at, but it's pointing straight."
He said the cameras are 'top of the range' and explained some of their features: "They will have full HD and custom sensors to see the driver and what they are doing.
"They have an eye motion detector to see if the drivers are looking at the road or if they are looking at their phones or anything.
"All of this information will get reported to us straight away.
"But the footage will only be accessible to us, the police and the city council and we won't access it unless we have to.
"We are not going to be looking at the footage but we have done it so we can be the safest taxi company in Oxfordshire.
"There will be that peace of mind for people that if anything happens, then there will be a record of it."
He explained that the cameras will not pick up any audio, in line with privacy laws.
The private hire cabs are installing the high-tech cameras into 75 of their own cars.
It will then be rolled out to all of the drivers with their own motors.
As an incentive, drivers with cameras will be put on the 'upper cars' list which means they will be offered more high-end work from top account holders and pick-ups from hotels first.
Oxford City Council announced it was hoping to make audio-visual recording compulsory in the 681 licensed taxis and private hire vehicles by 2015.
At the time it was supported by drivers and the City of Oxford Taxi Cab Association (COLTA) but was also met with a barrage of criticism including from privacy campaigners.
The plans were then shelved in 2013 when the council licensing bosses admitted it would intrude on privacy.
Colin Cook, who is the head of licensing at the council said 'there has never been a problem' with cabs having CCTV as long we they are compliant with data protection regulations.
The secretary of COLTA welcomed the plans for Royal Cars, but admitted it wouldn't push its own black cabbies.
Sajad Khan said: "CCTV is a good thing to have in cars, no doubt. It’s not just passengers’ safety, but the drivers safety too. We had discussions about CCTV too, but it's not a mandatory requirement. It would work if the driver had control and could turn it on and off."
Oxon Transport Services Ltd
Unit 1 Isis Business Centre
Pony Road, Cowley
Registered in England & Wales
Company No : 07214828
VAT No : 997216768