“Blanket licensing may be disproportionate and should only be used where there is a strong justification” the Commissioner said in its response to the DfT consultation.

 In its response, the Commissioner said: “When a relevant authority has licensing functions and considers the use of surveillance camera systems as part of the conditions attached to a licence or certificate, it must in particular have regard to guiding principle one in this code. Any proposed imposition of a blanket requirement to attach surveillance camera conditions as part of the conditions attached to a licence or certificate is likely to give rise to concerns about the proportionality of such an approach and will require an appropriately strong justification and must be kept under regular review.”

 He also issued a warning on the blanket use of audio recording systems saying “the recording of conversations is extremely intrusive and requires strong justification.”

 Local Authorities who are to adopt mandatory CCTV requirements were reminded by the Commissioner to comply with the principles set out in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. With regards to audio surveillance, the Code states:

 “Any proposed deployment that includes audio recording in a public place is likely to require a strong justification of necessity to establish its proportionality. There is a strong presumption that a surveillance camera system must not be used to record conversations as this is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified.”

 If you are a taxi or private hire driver who is facing a mandatory CCTV requirement, make sure your local authority complies with the following: 

1. Privacy impact assessment must be undertaken

2. You have a right to know how the local authority will handle footage for your licensed vehicle

3. Consultation is key and you should be consulted in the mandatory requirement prior to it being implemented

4. Most importantly, you must know what is required of you when you act as data controller.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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