Don’t bother smiling in taxis: there’s a fair chance you won’t be caught by the security camera

It looks like the taxi industry is trying to take someone for a ride.

It is reported to be fearful that an increase in violent attacks on drivers will result from criminals becoming aware that as many as half the security cameras installed in cabs do not work properly.

Let’s have a replay of this concern.

The industry is fearful that criminals will wake up to the fact that as many as half the security cameras installed in cabs don’t work properly.

Accordingly there will be an increase in violent attacks on drivers.

Yep. The nature of the concern is all too apparent.

There’s a fair chance the security camera in the cab in which you next travel is defective in some way.

Because the camera may well be defective, it doesn’t effectively protect the driver.

And so –

The Taxi Federation says the compulsory security camera regime brought in two years ago after fatal attacks on two drivers is “becoming an uncontrolled shambles” and will meet the Government this week to lobby for urgent legislation to rectify the problem.

Dunno what legislation is supposed to do to turn a defective camera into a properly working one.

But there is a bit of background information that is relevant to the story.

Police are investigating a fraud case involving the sale of 700 counterfeit and faulty versions of New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) approved cameras to two Auckland cab companies and Christchurch’s Blue Star Taxis.

While there were media reports that Auckland’s Sail Cabs bought the cameras, the company says that is not the case and all of its in-cab cameras comply with NZTA requirements.

However, Taxi Federation executive director Tim Reddish has warned Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee the problem goes beyond the fake cameras.

Indeed, it does, as we learn from the contents of a recent letter in which Reddish said publicity about the fake cameras “highlighted serious systemic flaws in the entire security cameras compliance regime”.

“It is estimated that up to 50 per cent of the cameras currently installed nationwide are either not working, or can be interfered with by drivers to change time and date data settings, or images are unable to be retrieved due to encryption system failures or software unavailability.

“It also appears that in many cases the systems approved by NZTA were not true to the approved specification when installed.”

Reddish last week told the Herald there was a marked drop in assaults on drivers when the cameras were introduced.

But when the public realises cameras aren’t working in 50 per cent of the cabs, then the opportunities for crimes, assaults and attacks on taxi drivers open up again, he claims.

“If the criminal element are aware they’re not working then the whole thing is a waste of time.

“It’s no secret that NZTA compliance staff acknowledge that the situation is fast becoming an uncontrolled shambles.”

Reddish complained the current legislation did not give NZTA the power or proper inspection procedures to ensure cameras were working properly.

But someone identified only as “Mr Woodhouse” told the Herald he would remind Reddish when they meet this week that the federation’s members are legally responsible for making regular checks to ensure the cameras were operating as they should.

Alf assumes this is a reference to Michael Woodhouse, the Associate Minister of Transport, a National colleague of the Member for Eketahuna North, and an all-round good chap.

He is quoted as saying:

“I am concerned that some taxi companies seem unaware of their legal responsibilities in this regard, and will be asking the Taxi Federation to remind their members of this fact.”

Dunno if your hard-working member is missing something in this story.

But if many cabs have cameras that aren’t working properly, and this is putting the drivers at risk, they don’t really need new legislation.

They just need the gumption to get cameras that do work.

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