Sheffield taxi CCTV plan hits legal snag

Arshad Mahmood.  Arshad Mahmood. with daughter Zahra Mahmood
Arshad Mahmood. Arshad Mahmood. with daughter Zahra Mahmood
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MOVES to introduce cameras into black cabs in Sheffield could never see the light of day after the Government forced another city to stop recording taxi passengers.

Sheffield Council said it would consider introducing CCTV in the city’s 857 Hackney cabs, after taxi driver Arshad Mahmood was hit in the face with a broken bottle, losing the sight in one eye.

The 40-year-old father was attacked on Fox Hill Road after he asked a passenger not to drink alcohol in the vehicle.

But now it has emerged councillors may have to take on the Government if they are serious about the plan - after Southampton City Council was forced to stop recording in taxis.

Government Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, told it to change its rules to protect passengers’ privacy.

Mr Graham said Southampton Council, which for the last three years has required all taxis to install CCTV, had ‘gone too far’.

He added: “It is only right that the privacy of drivers and passengers is respected.

“We hope this action sends a clear message to local authorities that they must properly consider all the legal obligations before requiring the installation of CCTV or similar equipment.”

Sheffield solicitor Peter Wright, of city centre-based Taylor Bracewell, said the council could face a £500,000 fine.

He said: “The ICO has made this decision due to its view that the invasion of privacy is not warranted by the potential risks to drivers and passengers in black cabs.

“The council may be better placed to compile evidence of criminal assault on drivers or passengers in Sheffield and present the evidence, while arguing that the risk does warrant this measure in this city.”

Coun John Robson, chair of the Sheffield’s licensing committee, said: “As yet no decision has been made.

“We will look into the legal challenges when we re-examine the decision at our next meeting.”

Mr Mahmood is back home in Nether Edge but needs more surgery.