HUNDREDS of taxi drivers in Swindon face paying £600 for their vehicle to be fitted with CCTV so they can get a licence from the council.

There have been discussions between Swindon Borough Council, Hackney Carriage and private hire companies on proposals to make the cameras mandatory.

But the idea has provoked a mixed reaction from drivers, as while it may improve safety and reduce crime, any footage wouldn’t be able to be used in any potential court case.

And data protection laws mean the camera footage will only be reviewed after complaints, rather than in real time.

A member of the Swindon Taxi Association who wished to remain anonymous was originally in favour but has since decided to oppose the bid.

He said: “I categorically do not want this policy put in place and I will fight its implementation to the end.

“The whole idea is to ensure drivers safety but if there actually was an event of criminality taking place in one of the taxis, the footage wouldn’t even be allowed to be used in court.”

There are also worries that if a driver were to lose the storage device of the CCTV unit in the event of a break in then they could potentially face the replacement costs.

A report by the Licensing Authority said: “The installation of CCTV in licensed vehicles can be both a deterrent and would-be trouble maker and a source of evidence in cases of disputes between drivers and passengers.

“The Licensing Authority receives complaints and allegations regarding behaviour of a driver with passengers and sometimes complaints from drivers. Unfortunately, there have been occasions where a driver’s licence has been suspended or revoked, following investigations, due to inappropriate behaviour.”

There are currently four drivers in Swindon who have recently regained their licences following serious allegations made against them after they agreed to have CCTV installed in their cars.

Kathryn Ashton, licensing manager at Swindon Borough Council, said: “We want mandatory cameras in taxis and private hire cars to have a policy put in place with time-zone conditions.

“There will be a consultation process to allow everyone the opportunity to speak and voice their concern.

“If this decision is passed there will be clear guidelines of what is acceptable, and a document will be created on approved fitters for the drivers.”

She added: “In theory this will reduce investigations for the licensing committee due to the passenger and driver both knowing the car is fitted with CCTV cameras.”

Other licensing authorities around the country such as Sheffield, Rochdale and Southampton have already made in-car CCTV mandatory.