WARRINGTON Borough Council could fork out up to £320,000 to install the latest CCTV system in the town’s taxis.

Since June 2016, cabbies across the borough have been required to have cameras fitted in their vehicles to improve the safety of passengers and drivers.

But the issue has sparked major concerns, with some labelling the system as ‘intrusive’.

However, following discussions between the council and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), since June, cabbies have had permission to temporarily deactivate the CCTV when their vehicle is in personal use.

And Warrington’s taxis will now be fitted with the latest system, which will give drivers the option to turn it off when their vehicle is being used for personal purposes, although it must be in operation at other times.

The capital investment is part of the authority’s commitment to work with the taxi trade to ensure the ‘highest standards of safeguarding’ are delivered for drivers and the public.

Around 600 vehicles in the town will be required to have the new system.

It is expected to cost the council between £300,000 and £320,000 in total.

Cllr Judith Guthrie, executive board member for environment and public protection, said: “We recognise the valuable public service Warrington’s taxis provide and we are committed to working closely with the trade to promote best practice and to improve standards.

“The security of taxi passengers and drivers is a high priority for us, so I’m pleased that we are one the local authorities leading the way in the introduction of CCTV.

“The use of this technology in taxis is a new and emerging area for councils and there have been some challenges in getting it right.

“We have listened to the concerns of the ICO and drivers around data protection and acted on the advice given.

“Safety is paramount and that’s why we have carried out rigorous research and invested in a high-quality system, which will fully meet the needs of Warrington’s taxi trade.

“This policy has been introduced in the best interests of the travelling public and responsible drivers and I’m confident that the new systems will strike the right balance between protecting drivers and the travelling public, while protecting the privacy of drivers when they are not on duty.”

Installation of the new system is expected to begin next month following the conclusion of the procurement exercise.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead says the authority has been working closely with the taxi trade and thanked drivers.

He added: “We are seen to be one of key movers in terms of protecting the public and drivers.

“Many councils are coming to us for advice, including advice around compliance with the law and good relations with the ICO.”