Sheffield taxi firm would welcome CCTV in its cabs
Date: 02/08/2012. Story submitted by: Gael Stigant
Submitted by: Gael Stigant
The manager of one of Sheffield’s largest taxi firms has said his drivers are ‘always going to be in the firing line’ when customers become violent.
Dermot Griffiths, who is the general manager of Crookes-based firm Mercury Taxis, said his drivers have suffered only a few attacks during the total of 2.5million journeys the fleet makes each year - but when violence does occur it is usually down to drugs or alcohol.
Dermot’s comments follow the announcement by Sheffield City Council’s licensing committee that it will re-examine the issue of mandatory provision of CCTV cameras in licensed taxis.
This followed an attack on City Taxis driver Arshad Mahmood, who lost his eye after being hit in the face with a glass bottle by a passenger who had been told he wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol in the cab.
Dermot said: “I’ve been general manager at Mercury Taxis for over seven years and - thank God - we have never had an incident as serious as the one in the news at the moment.
“On the whole, we have very few incidents to say we carry approximately 2.5 million passengers every year. I believe alcohol and drugs are mainly responsible for this type of action, and drivers of private hire vehicles are always going to be in the firing line for this kind of brutal behaviour.”
However, he added that the firm would welcome mandatory CCTV cameras in their vehicles – as long as funding for it is available.
He said: “We would be all for it - it would just be a case of funding, and how reliable and sophisticated the system would be. We would view it as a deterrent rather than a cure.
“In terms of costing, it’s generally not something that would be supplied by the taxi firms as drivers tend to move from company to company.”
At present, Mercury Taxis has a system in place where drivers in an emergency situation can press a button which, when activated, makes the driver’s car microphone ‘live’ so the office can hear the commotion or conversation. It also displays the driver’s GPS position on his colleagues’ computer screens so assistance can be sent as soon as possible.
Coun John Robson, chairman of the licensing committee, said that when the CCTV issue was discussed in 2007 members were not convinced of their necessity. In view of the recent attack, he said the committee will now re-examine the decision.
The licensing committee’s deputy chairman, Coun Clive Skelton, said: “CCTV cameras in hackney cabs may prevent or at least reduce the possibility of such serious assaults on taxi drivers.
“Our committee will consult with the licensed taxi trade associations on this issue. As a committee we are determined to make the job of a taxi driver as safe as possible.”
** What do you think? Would you be happy to be recorded by CCTV when you travel in a taxi? Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org. **
Address: Northfield Road Sheffield S10 1QS
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