TAXI drivers have voted in favour of installing CCTV in their cars to improve safety - but they don’t want to pay for it.

Two out of three cabbies in Southend backed the move during a survey conducted by Southend Council to gauge the popularity of the system.

Council chiefs believe cameras could help to protect drivers against attacks from customers, as well as guard against allegations of wrongdoing by the cabbies.

However, more than half of the cabbies surveyed objected to the systems becoming compulsory, and three out of four said they could not afford them.

Dave Clift, president of the Southend Taxi Drivers Association, said: “I have had a CCTV system for some time, and it is very effective.

“It can provide the evidence that is needed in a court case or police investigation, and that is a comfort to both drivers and customers.

“But I do not think it should be compulsory. It’s up to each driver to decide.”

Cameras in cabs have become increasingly popular in countries around the world as a way of protecting drivers and solving disputes.

The systems, which can also record sound, record high-quality footage of customers in the back of taxis, the drivers and the road ahead.

In the council survey, 94 cabbies out of 142 - or 66 per cent - said CCTV would make them feel safer.

However, just 44 believed it should be compulsory, and only 32 said they would pay for it themselves.

Tino Callaghan, 54, has been driving taxis in Southend for 30 years and became the first in the town to install a CCTV system 12 years ago.

He now supplies other cabbies with similar devices, which cost about £300.

He said: “Nearly every cab in places like Korea and Hong Kong have these now, and they are starting to catch on over here.

“They are well worth it for the peace of mind they can offer.”

Several councils around the UK have already introduced policies which requires taxi drivers to include CCTV in their vehicles as part of their licences.

However, a spokesman for Southend Council said there were no plans for compulsory installations at the moment.

He said: “It is not something which is being actively pursued at the moment.

“However, it not been ruled out for the future.”