PLANS for CCTV to become compulsory for every taxi in Colchester finally look set to be agreed after years of wrangling.

Colchester Council wants to update its licensing policy to ensure every private hire car has cameras in a bid to protect passengers and drivers alike.

The idea was first mooted back in 2017 but concerns about the type of system to be used and fears over breaching privacy laws had held things up.

But council bosses have now come up with a new draft policy which they believe will work.

Under the new scheme, pictures should be recording at all times the car is in use but sound can only be captured when the driver decides and presses a panic button.

This policy could be revised at a later date if the Information Commissioners Office updates their recommendation to say audio recording should be done at all times to allow context of potential disputes to be captured.

The new guidelines are set to be agreed by the authority's licensing committee next week, and a three-month consultation will then begin.

The policy would then have to be agreed at full council.

A report ahead of next week's meeting said CCTV was crucial for public protection.

"Licensed drivers are a valuable asset to the borough and their safety is a key concern," it said.

"This concern must be considered alongside the overriding objective in taxi and private hire - licensing of the safety of the travelling public.

"No other licensing regime puts an individual in such complete control of members of the public and that once the door closes the driver is alone with people they have no prior knowledge of their character or propensity to violence.

"The introduction of CCTV will provide a safer environment for both drivers and passengers."

Many cab drivers already have CCTV in their cabs but concerns had been raised about the cost of putting in a system which meets council guidelines.

The council says the cost of installation can be claimed as a business expense through HMRC and they are investigating match funding that to help offset the expense.

If the new policy is agreed, new licenses will only be granted to drivers if they have a camera system which meets council requirements.

Existing drivers will have to have it installed by the time of their next renewal.