Abuse victims and drivers clash over CCTV plan for Rotherham taxis

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Abuse victims and their families in Rotherham have welcomed plans to introduce CCTV in all town taxis - but warned ‘not enough’ is being done to tackle child sexual exploitation.

In a new letter on planned changes to taxi licensing policies by the council, the group said ‘we feel that even after the amount of coverage the town has received, enough is still not being done - especially by the council’.

They are calling for all 800 taxis in the town to be fitted with cameras and all drivers to have more stringent security checks.

But cabbies have said they are being ‘condemned by association’ following reports highlighting the role of some taxi drivers in facilitating child sexual exploitation.

Commissioners are expected to give the go-ahead today, Tuesday, for cameras to be fitted in taxis, following a public consultation.

The idea is being backed by families and survivors of child sexual exploitation, who say the council’s ‘commitment to looking at the issues of taxi companies and drivers is a step in the right direction’.

The group has also called for drivers to foot the bill for altering their vehicles on the grounds the costs should be tax-deductible.

But taxi drivers have raised concerns about the proposals ahead of a meeting at Rotherham Town Hall to discuss the plans today.

The Rotherham Private Hire Drivers Association has said installing CCTV ‘must be optional’ and any new conditions should only be considered ‘if the cost is acceptable and reasonable’.

A letter representing 52 Hackney cab drivers said the changes could put ‘a lot of drivers out of jobs’ and individuals should be able to choose whether they install CCTV.

It added: “If the enforcement department was out occasionally and doing something maybe we wouldn’t need cameras. We have been condemned by association.”

The Rotherham Hackney Carriage Association said drivers should be allowed to choose what type of CCTV is installed so it is affordable to all.

The shake-up comes after the Jay report revealed the ‘prominent role’ of taxi drivers in the grooming scandal, while the Casey inquiry said taxis needed more effective regulation due to the ‘well-publicised link between taxis and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that has cast a long shadow over the vast majority of law-abiding drivers’.