COUNCIL bosses are in talks with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over the use of taxi CCTV following concerns surrounding potential breaches of data protection.

Discussions are in relation to when licensed vehicles are being operated for private use.

Cabbies across Warrington were ordered to fit vehicles with CCTV by the authority to provide additional protection to verbal abuse, assaults and malicious complaints.

The installation process, which followed a consultation period with drivers, residents and partner agencies, started in June.

Installation costs for each vehicle total around £400 but some taxi drivers continue to voice their anger over the move.

One of the main issues has been the constant recording in vehicles, with the camera remaining on for 15 minutes after the engine switches off.

All data is fully encrypted and is held securely by the system for a 'very limited period'.

But the authority confirmed footage will only ever be accessed in the event of a 'serious incident'.

Communication between the council and ICO is ongoing, with a meeting between the pair set to take place next month, but the installation process will go on as planned – at least until there are further developments.

A council spokesman said: "We are currently in talks with ICO over the use of CCTV when licensed vehicles are being operated for private use.

"Having reviewed the current position, the council has decided that while the discussions on this issue are ongoing – and in the interests of the safety of the travelling public and drivers – the installation of CCTV in licensed vehicles in Warrington will continue.

"We will keep drivers and operators informed as these discussions progress and thank them for their continued co-operation.

"The purpose of this scheme is to improve safety in licensed vehicles and to ensure services operate to the highest standards.

"It's important to reiterate that CCTV footage will only be viewed when there is a reason to do so."

The ICO, which has its head office in Wilmslow, is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights in the public interest.

The body covers a range of legislation including the Data Protection Act.

The 1998 Act controls how personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the Government.

It ensures information is used fairly and lawfully, kept for no longer than is necessary, handled according to people's data protection rights and kept safe and secure.