Taxi drivers in Swindon will not now be compelled to install CCTV in their vehicles after a change of heart by Swindon Borough Council.

And the cause of that change is the burden on the council to keep records.

In mid-2022 the council’s licensing committee agreed to change policy to make CCTV mandatory in both hackney cabs, which can be hailed on the street, and private hire vehicles, which must be hired by telephone or online.

The plan was for new vehicles to have the technology installed by the start of 2023 and then all taxis by April 1.

Last year staff shortages in the licensing department meant that the deadline was not achieved.

The members of the committee agreed to put back the implementation of the policy by a year.

That means, according to a licensing report, the team was able to look further into the requirements on the council if it insisted all taxis have cameras and recording equipment installed.

Data protection laws would mean the local authority would be responsible to holding and managing the data captured by the CCTV if it was needed.

A report said: "This review established that where the council has mandated CCTV as part of its taxi licensing policy, there are significant technical requirements that must be in place to implement the requirement and to fulfil the Information Commissioner’s Office requirements.

“These present onerous expectations on the council as the data controller.”

It added that CCTV has not been needed in the occasions where complaints have been made against drivers: “Over the last year the council has received some complaints about the conduct of HCV and PHV drivers.

Three drivers have been suspended and three have had their licence revoked as a result.

“In taking this action, none of the investigations required CCTV footage to bring the matters to a conclusion.

“Whilst it is undeniably useful to capture footage via CCTV, the current level of criminality does not justify a requirement for mandatory inclusion. Fundamentally, the council does not have the resources to deliver a mandatory CCTV requirement at this time.”

It does say if drivers want to install CCTV they should be allowed to do so.

A new consultation of passengers and the taxi drivers at the start of 2024 said 72 per cent of respondents, most of whom were taxi drivers, wanted CCTV to be option.

Only five per cent of local authorities in the UK make it mandatory for taxis to have CCTV installed.