Black cab drivers protest over ‘lack of regulation of minicabs’ outside TfL HQ

Families of taxi drivers protested outside TfL’s headquarters this afternoon (Picture: @SherbAlert/Twitter)

London’s black cab drivers and their families gathered in their masses outside Transport for London’s headquarters today to protest over the “lack of proper regulation” of private minicab companies.

Hundreds of men, women, children and even dogs, wore Save Taxi t-shirts and held banners and placards outside Windsor House, Victoria Street, from 2pm this afternoon.

It is the latest in a number of demonstrations held by cab drivers calling for TfL to impose tougher restrictions on minicab firms.

Drivers have repeatedly complained they are losing earnings as a result of private hire cars and apps such as Uber, which they allege are not being subjected to the same licensing rules as black cabs.

Protesters today staged a demonstration in support of London’s taxi drivers as they claim TfL is not supporting them against ‘unfair competition’ and there ‘unbalanced regulation’ between black cabs and private hire vehicles.

On a Facebook group titled ‘Save our Black Cabs’, protesters and London cabbies say they want to raise awareness over their ‘inadequacy’.

Protesters have also set up a hashtag of Twitter, #SaveTaxi, to showcase the level of support for London’s black taxis, whose drivers say they are losing money due to the lack of regulation.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer of surface transport, said: “As the regulator of London’s taxi and private hire trades, we apply legislation fairly and equally.

“We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator and we are satisfied that Uber currently complies with private hire licensing requirements.”

Today’s protest follows on from a similar event in May, during which about 1,000 black cab drivers blockaded the streets around the TfL headquarters.


Jail ride for minicab directors over accounting failures

6938705977_0d226702c4_oTwo company directors who ran a taxi hire company have received jail sentences and been disqualified for failing to keep adequate accounting records and failing to pay £150,000 in VAT owing to HMRC, following an Insolvency Service investigation

Two disqualified directors who were found to be in control of a series of retail businesses while still banned from running a company have received prison sentences and a further disqualification, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the companies which collapsed owing over £10m

Arfan Khan and Gerard Burns, both from Middlesbrough were directors of Thornaby Cars Ltd trading as Royal Cars. The company was wound-up on 28 July 2010 following a petition by HMRC.

The investigation found Khan and Burns unlawfully transferred £150,0000 from the company before it was wound up to another company which they controlled, when they knew that such an amount was owed to HMRC for unpaid VAT. In doing so, they prevented HMRC from being paid the debt that it was owed.

Both Khan and Mr Burns failed to keep adequate accounting records to show the financial position of Thornaby Cars Ltd.

Khan further continued to use the business name Royal Cars previously used by Thornaby Cars, when its use had been prohibited for a period of five years from 28 July 2010.

At Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court Khan was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for a period of 10 years.

Burns was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment (to be suspended for two years) and disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of five years.

Simon Button, deputy chief investigative officer, from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: ‘The Insolvency Service and BIS will take firm action when we find that company directors have abused the trust that the public expect from them when they hold such a responsible position.

‘Both Mr Khan and Mr Burns were clearly aware that the money belonged to the company and its creditors, and was not theirs to do with as they wished.’

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Redditch taxi driver cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting university student

A REDDITCH taxi driver has been cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting a university student.

Former teacher Shamim Ahmed, aged 37, of Studley Road, had been accused of pinning the young woman against his taxi and kissing her on the left side of the neck.

But the jury at Worcester Crown Court took just 50 minutes to decide, unanimously, that he was innocent.

Mohammad Hafeez, prosecuting, said the Redditch student had been for a night on the town with friends after coming home from university on October 3 last year.

She decided to go home when she felt tired after drinking four pints of lager and two vodka shots and a friend got a taxi for her from the town centre.

Mr Hafeez alleged that, when Ahmed stopped the car near her home, she climbed out of the taxi and “stumbled” into his arms.

She told the jury that he said he wanted to kiss her.

She claimed that, when she refused, he pinned her against the car and kissed the left side of her neck.

Cross-examined by Alison Scott-Jones, defending, she said she was fully aware of what was happening.

“After a long day, you were tired, drunk and confused and simply misinterpreted what had taken place,” suggested Miss Scott-Jones.

In a statement to police, Ahmed denied saying he was going to kiss the girl and that, when she got out of the car, she looked as though she was going to fall and embraced him.

Ahmed, who is married and the father of a four-year-old son, had denied sexual assault.


Taxi drivers fury at £1,000 per year charge from New Street Station

RMT union says black cab drivers will quit station taxi rank over new charges of up to £1,000 per year

Birmingham’s black cab drivers are up in arms after being told they will have to pay extra fees of up to £1,000 per year to pick up passengers at New Street Station .

And they are threatening to refuse to visit the station, leaving commuters stranded, unless the fee is cut.

The taxi driver’s union RMT is now meeting with Network Rail bosses over the charges which they say could see drivers forced out of business.

It adds that drivers already pay a 20p fee to the station every time they pick up a passenger there.

But Network Rail says the new fees, which are being introduced when the station fully opens on September 20 following five years of rebuilding work, are part of a policy to improve air quality by issuing higher charges for higher polluting cars.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “None of our taxi driver members will accept Network Rail’s terms. They are all united and determined that no-one will pay this extortionate fee.”

“Instead, drivers will be forced to ply for hire near the station, meaning that Network Rail’s actions will simply inconvenience passengers by making them walk further to pick up a taxi. This will have serious consequences and create severe congestion throughout the surrounding area.

“Bearing in mind that £750 million has been spent refurbishing New Street station to benefit passengers, it is appalling that one of the results will be to disrupt and inconvenience passengers with onward travel needs as taxi drivers are unfairly penalised.”

The disruption could start during ‘Super September’ – an unprecedented number of major events in the City Centre which have already prompted warnings of traffic chaos.

The union also complained that drivers have been patient working around the construction site for the last five years .

Network Rail said the new charge is designed to discourage older and more polluting vehicles. A spokeswoman said: “The charge is on a sliding scale, similar to the road tax, starting at around £400 per year. The £1,000 is at the higher end of the scale. This is designed to ensure better air quality and a better customer experience.”


Gateshead taxi drivers trained to spot vulnerable young people

Training from police for local Gateshead drivers will help prevent child sexual exploitation, it is hoped

Cabbies are being trained to spot and help vulnerable young people.

Taxi drivers and private hire operators in Gateshead will learn how to identify children and young people who are at risk of being sexually exploited, on a new course.

Drivers will receive safeguarding advice and details of who to contact about report any suspicions they may have, in order to keep vulnerable passengers safe.

The training is being delivered by the police and the Gateshead Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) on behalf of Gateshead Council.

The free sessions will be made available to around 700 hackney carriage drivers and private hire vehicle drivers in Gateshead over the coming weeks, along with call handlers and despatch staff.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director of development and public protection at Gateshead Council, said it was vital that taxi drivers know how they can help protect children and young people from sexual exploitation.

“Helping to keep vulnerable children and young people safe is everyone’s business,” she said.

“Taxi drivers’ work brings them into daily contact with people across Gateshead who may be at risk of harm. We are not expecting them to make the decision on whether a child is at risk, but we do want to help them to be confident on what to report and who to report to.

“Drivers are in a unique position to see and report anything they feel concerned about, whether that’s a child in the wrong company or a young person who seems vulnerable.”

And Coun John McElroy, cabinet member for environment and transport at Gateshead Council added: “This training is designed to make sure that our license holders know how to report anything they see which makes them feel uneasy.

“Their work may also give them an insight into certain venues or locations that have raised their suspicions.

“Again we want them to know where to report those concerns. Everyone needs to play their part in making communities more aware that children are vulnerable and drivers are in an important position to look for signs of abuse.”

Phil Jones, proprietor of Blaydon Cabs, who has around 45 drivers attending the training said: “I am 100% behind this.

“It’s a very worrying issue nationally and it’s only right that taxi drivers, who can help a lot in spotting anything untoward, should play their part in helping to stop this.

“Drivers have a duty of care towards our customers and if they do see any signs, or notice any patterns of suspicious behaviour, then they need to flag it up.

“We are always looking for ways of giving a better service to the public and being alert to this and aware of what to look out for, can only add to what we provide to our customers across Gateshead.”

The safeguarding training must now be completed before drivers’ licenses can be renewed and nine one hour sessions are taking place over the summer.

And anyone applying for their first license as a hackney or private hire driver must undergo the training prior to the license being issued.

The first sessions are taking place at Gateshead Civic Centre this week and are already full. In total almost 300 drivers have signed up for the training, with this number growing day by day.

Gary Hetherington, independent chair of Gateshead LSCB added: “Protecting children and young people remains a key priority for the LSCB and partners in Gateshead.

“CSE is an extremely complex issue and cannot be dealt with quickly by any one single agency, which is why we have a strong partnership approach in Gateshead.”


Nov 14

Bath Taxi Drivers Banned From Using Sat Navs

New licence conditions being introduced by the Council for taxis in Bath and North East Somerset will ban drivers from using satellite navigation.

At a Council Cabinet meeting last night, new conditions and modifications were announced for licensing taxi drivers throughout the area.

These added new rules such as vehicles must be under five years old when they are registered as a taxi and that drivers when applying must take part in a Bath & North East Somerset Council Drivers Assessment Course.

The new condition ‘Satellite or GPS Navigation systems are prohibited whilst on hire or available for hire within the boundaries of Bath & North East Somerset Council’ applies to both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

Cllr David Dixon, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “It is not unreasonable to expect that a professional licensed driver should be able to have a sound knowledge of the area in which they are licensed.

“Satellite Navigation systems do not always provide the most appropriate route and are unable to take account of local transient conditions that a professional driver should be aware of.

“However it is not unreasonable for a driver that is required to undertake a journey which ends or starts outside of the licensed area to be able to use a navigation system for an unfamiliar area.

“On a recent multi agency taxi check undertaken in BANES 100% of existing taxis already using satellite navigation systems were found by VOSA inspectors to be compromising the drivers view of the road by being installed within the swept area of the windscreen.

“The systems were required to be removed by VOSA immediately as they were considered to be in contravention of construction and use regulations.”


Nov 14

Taxi driver calls for fox cull after finding brake cables chewed up

In 2011 Erica Kirkpatrick, from Ardrossan Gardens, found her brake lines severed

Foxes with a taste for rubber have repeatedly chewed through the cables on a taxi, sparking a renewed call for a cull.

The taxi driver, who lives in Ardrossan Gardens, Worcester Park, said foxes have attacked his cables on four occasions and are so bold one even sauntered into his back room while his wife was reading a magazine.

Two years ago a neighbour who lives just in the same road had the brake lines on her car gnawed through twice and called for a cull.

Foxes are known to be attracted to rubber and it is not uncommon for them to bite car cables which can cause accidents as well as forcing drivers to spend money replacing the damaged parts.

On Monday the taxi driver, who did not want to be named, found the cable of his vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS), which prevents skidding and improves control by sensing over-braking, had been attacked.

Last Tuesday he discovered the ABS cables on the taxi had been chewed through.

And in September three cables, linked to the ABS, speedometer and taximeter, were also attacked.

Adam Sparkes, from Morden, protects brake cables from foxes in 2009

He said: “There are so many foxes around and it’s got to be an animal with a strong bite. If I had not noticed what was going on, my passengers as well as myself would have been put in danger as well as any other road users.

“Safety of my passengers is my biggest concern.

“They are lovely to watch and very beautiful but they seem to be everywhere. I think culling is probably the best idea because there are so many.”

Not only do foxes get into rubbish bins and create mess, but he said that a fox even walked into their back room about 18 months ago.

He said: “On a lovely summer evening and the French windows being open, my wife was looking at some magazines in the back room, when she felt a presence and on looking up saw a fox about three feet away.

“She grabbed a shoe and threw it at the fox, which at first took no notice but then slowly walked back into the garden.”

In 2011 Erica Kirkpatrick, 54, who also lives in Ardrossan Gardens, called for foxes to be culled after finding a puddle of brake fluid under her car and her brake lines severed.

A few weeks later she once again spotted the tell-tale teeth marks and decided the only way to ensure her safety was to fit metal brake lines.

In 2009 a fox bit through a Morden cabbie’s brake cable. Adam Sparkes, of Cardinal Avenue, alerted police after discovering the potentially life-threatening damage to his car.


Nov 14

Lichfield man Christopher Barlow prosecuted for acting as unlicensed taxi driver

A LICHFIELD man has been ordered to pay £638 after admitting to acting as a taxi driver without a proper licence.

Christopher Barlow, 53, of Saxon Court in Lichfield, pleaded guilty to three public safety charges at Stafford Magistrates’ Court on November 6.

Lichfield District Council started proceedings after Mr Barlow, of Citroen DS Hire, took a booking and used his car as a private hire vehicle without holding the proper licences in March this year.

The three charges were for acting as an operator, driver, and proprietor of a private hire vehicle without holding either a proprietor’s licence or a private hire driver’s licence, contrary to section 46 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Mr Barlow was fined £140 for using his car as a private hire vehicle without the proper licence on March 19.

This was reduced from £215 for an early guilty plea.

He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs in full of £478 and a victim surcharge of £20 – a total of £638, including the fine.

Lichfield District Council is the licensing authority for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles in the district.

A proprietor’s licence is needed for the owner of the vehicle and a combined hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licence is needed for the driver.

Councillor Colin Greatorex said: “We license and regulate taxi companies across the district, to make sure they are safe for their customers.

“It’s really important that local people know they are getting into a trusted vehicle that has been properly licensed.

“We hope this case encourages all prospective taxi drivers to make sure they are properly licensed before accepting any paid work.”

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Nov 14

Video: Minicab boss is attacked in street after bust-up

Muhammed Arshad, 48, had just finished his shift when he was set upon outside Manchester Cars office in Bloom Street in the city centre.

Minicab boss Muhammed Arshad, left, is seen on CCTV being confronted by and punched in the face. Mr Arshad says he was then hit in the face with a metal barrier

A Minicab boss says he was beaten up by yobs after refusing to order a cab for them.

Muhammed Arshad, 48, had just finished his shift when he was set upon outside Manchester Cars office in Bloom Street in the city centre.

Mr Arshad says he refused the men a taxi because they were aggressive. But they were still outside the building 10 minutes later as Mr Arshad left at the end of his shift. He was punched by one of the men outside the door and dragged across the street to the Sackville Street car park, where a scuffle took place.

One of the men then threw a metal barrier at Mr Arshad, which hit him in the face. Several members of staff from the firm tried to fend off the men.

Mr Arshad was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary by ambulance with injuries to his face including a puncture wound to his right cheek, a cut above his left eye and severe bruising to his left.

Les Gunn from Manchester Cars said: “This nasty and unprovoked assault goes to show that it’s not only private hire drivers that can be at risk.

“This time the victim was one of our managers as he finished work.

“We are horrified at what happened, but are also thankful, as this could have been so much worse.

“Our senior management team were made aware straight away and have made sure that Muhammed has all the support he needs and wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries.”

Mr Arshad was too shaken to talk about his ordeal.

The men ran off towards Princess Street after the incident and were later seen near Abingdon Street. One was skinny and the other well built and muscular. Both had Manchester accents.

Manchester Cars is one of the city’s biggest private hire operators and has 300 drivers.


Nov 13

York rape trial: Minicab driver is cleared

A minicab driver has been cleared of raping a teenage girl as he drove her home from her boyfriend’s house in York.

Darren Lester, 52, was unanimously found not guilty of rape and a sexual assault by a jury at York Crown Court today. He had been accused of forcing himself on the 17-year-old after stopping his car in a country lane last November.

The private hire driver, of Olympian Court off Lawrence Street, told the court during his two-and-a-half day trial that the teenager, who he had never met before, had “forced” him into sex acts and he had gone ahead with them as he had been “100 per cent sure” that she consented.

The Crown Prosecution Service had claimed he pinned the girl in her seat and tried to kiss her, then attacked her when she resisted.

The jury was told Mr Lester had collected the girl from Wigginton after she had spent an evening with her boyfriend, who had called for a minicab to take her to another part of the city. Jurors were told she was “tipsy” but not drunk.

Summing up the defence case, barrister Nicholas de la Poer said people behave in unexpected ways and suggested the encounter was fuelled by “alcohol and hormones”. He said the girl may have felt “crashing regret” afterwards.

He said Mr Lester did not deny the encounter and conceded it had happened consensually, which indicated he was telling the truth and was “enormously to his credit”. He said: “This is a court of law, not of morals – nobody is asking you to like him.

“The fact somebody has behaved poorly does not mean they are not telling the truth.”

Before leaving to consider their verdict, the jury heard from prosecuting barrister Kitty Taylor, who said the fact Mr Lester conceded he willingly had a sexual encounter with the girl could indicate something about his character.

She said Mr Lester weaved truth with fantasy in his statement to police, saying: “What he did was take advantage of a young girl, push his luck and, when she said no, insisted.”


Nov 13

Taxi cameras to film passengers in back seat

Steven Scott Taylor

A PILOT scheme to film passengers in the back of taxis is set to be launched in the Capital in a bid to cut down on problems ranging from fare disputes to physical assaults.

The proposal has long been campaigned for by cabbies and private hire drivers, although civil liberty groups and ­politicians believe it to be “a step too far” and an 
“invasion of privacy”.

The contentious plan is being put before the council’s regulatory committee on ­Friday and if approved, taxi drivers would have a six-month window to convince councillors that “sufficient safeguards” can be put in place in regards to the storage and accessing of any footage.

The installation of a front-facing camera to help ­drivers settle insurance claims has already been agreed in ­principle.

The cameras – three in each vehicle – would cost each taxi driver around £400, with one in the driver compartment and two recording passengers.

The city’s three main black cab firms – City Cabs, Central Radio Taxis and ComCab – all back the proposal.

And it could help to stamp out incidents such as an assault on a taxi driver flagged down on Springwell Place in Dalry last month and then assaulted by four men.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Edie said he had real concerns about the issue.

He said: “How much more do we really need to be watched? We really do need to make our minds up about how far we are prepared to go in regards to surveillance – ­traditional freedoms are being eroded.”

This view was echoed by Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, who said: “Allowing taxi drivers to install surveillance equipment in their cabs in order to record every minute of every passenger’s journey is both an unjustifiable and intrusive measure.

“Voluntary schemes and panic button systems would offer a solution to those drivers who feel their safety is at risk.”

Several cities south of the Border, including London, already have CCTV in taxis. Drivers cannot view the footage and a special access code is required for the footage, which are deleted after 31 days.

If the proposal is approved, Raymond Davidson, of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, believes it will prove a benefit to both passengers and drivers.

He said: “This is well ­overdue. Passengers will feel safer. If you have nothing to hide then why worry? Like many city cabbies I’m 100 per cent in favour of it.”

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, refused to dismiss the proposal out of hand and admitted: “The issues taxi drivers have to deal with should be addressed.”

Convener of the regulatory committee, Councillor Gavin Barrie, said: “The council has received requests to allow the installation of forward-facing CCTV cameras in taxis and private hire cars for insurance purposes. The regulatory committee will also consider further consultation on the subject of CCTV cameras being used within vehicles for security purposes, with a view to reporting back in six months.”

CCTV is a must to protect drivers

Tony Kenmuir is boss of 400-strong city cab firm Central Taxis and he believes CCTV is much needed.

He said: “Only a few weeks ago I had a group of lads who jumped from the back of my cab without paying. They had tried to intimidate me but I didn’t back down and it was only when they realised I had called the police that they paid up. Every weekend cab drivers suffer verbal and often physical abuse, older guys and ethnic minorities especially. CCTV would stop all of this in an instant. You would not believe the number of police inquiries we receive each week. I struggle to see a proper argument against it.”


Nov 12

Nissan bravely launch the worlds ugliest taxi

a right munter

  • ◾Nissan’s NV200 Taxi begins final testing phase on the Capital’s streets
  • ◾Real-world durability process designed to make this the best London taxi ever
  • ◾New cabs will be sold and serviced by Nissan dealer group, Glyn Hopkin
  • ◾Design of new NV200 taxi will be unveiled before the end of 2013


Over the last 12 months, the new NV200 London Taxi has been undergoing an intensive development process by Nissan engineers. At the same time, Nissan’s design centre in Paddington has been applying the finishing touches to an iconic new exterior for the cab, penned especially for the Capital.

Now Nissan has begun London-specific real-world testing of its new NV200 Taxi, with the aim of making it the most reliable, economical and user-friendly Hackney Carriage the Capital has ever seen. Now in its final specification, the NV200 London Taxi enters the last phase of its testing process – hitting the streets of the city where it will spend its working life.

Based on the NV200 compact van, the taxi version has been designed from the inside out for the well-being of passengers, drivers and even other road-users. It complies with all Transport for London (TfL) regulations with a 25ft (7.6m) turning circle and will be more environmentally-friendly than current ‘black cab’ models thanks to its Nissan-sourced 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Sliding doors give easy, safe access to the five-passenger rear interior, while other highlights include a glass roof (so that those onboard can enjoy the view of the city), rear air-conditioning and even plug-in ports for charging smartphones. It all adds up to the most advanced and enjoyable London cab yet.

a vehicle so ugly it couldn’t enter Egremont crab fare

Nissan can also announce that the Glyn Hopkin dealer group has been selected to sell, service and maintain the NV200 London Taxi. “Glyn Hopkin has a long relationship with Nissan, providing expert customer service to new and used buyers,” explained Nissan GB Managing Director Jim Wright. “And with a new dedicated facility to be opened next year; it’s ideally placed to apply that experience to serving taxi drivers.”

Glyn Hopkin, Chairman of the Glyn Hopkin Group, added: “We’re very proud to be selected to sell, service and maintain the new NV200 London Taxi. It’s an iconic and very exciting vehicle – we’re looking forward to looking after the needs of our new taxi customers.”

Nissan will reveal the final look of the new NV200 London Taxi at an event before the end of the year. Designed to be instantly recognisable as a London taxi, it gets a bespoke ‘face’ with distinctive and modern lighting, plus a new grille and bumper treatment over the regular NV200. The exterior certainly isn’t the only part that has had the bespoke treatment, though; everything has been taken into consideration to ensure it can meet the demands of life as a London taxi.

Sales will begin in the second half of 2014 to allow time for thorough testing and evaluation. An all-electric version is under development which will further reduce emissions of the London taxi fleet.

The NV200 London Taxi joins an exciting global Nissan vision for the taxi industry. Taxi versions of the NV200 have already been unveiled in Tokyo, Barcelona and New York, with the stateside version being launched as the New York City ‘Taxi of tomorrow’ last month.

Click here for full details of the Nissan NV200 London Taxi.

Nov 12

Toronto; Taxi cab assaults: A different danger behind the wheel

Taxi drivers held a rally in front of Hamilton City Hall in 2011, trying to raise awareness to the dangers faced by taxi drivers while on the job.

When a passenger held a knife to his throat three years ago, Muhammad Azeez stopped driving taxi for a month. He’s still too scared to work the night shift.

Azeez is not alone. According to a 2011 survey, Toronto’s iTaxiworkers Association reported more than half of the respondents had been assaulted, and 70 per cent felt in physical danger while driving.

Many cities believe partitions in cabs are the best way to protect drivers. But new research from the U.S. shows that dashboard cameras, not partitions, are most effective at reducing taxi driver homicides.

These findings come amid a city-wide review of the taxi industry. Three Toronto drivers were stabbed in one week earlier this year, despite the requirement of cameras in cabs. The review will also assess the feasibility of adding partitions.

Azeez believes that might be the best option. “Maybe a partition would have stopped him putting a knife to my throat,” he says of his assailant. “The camera takes a picture, but a partition actually shields you from a person with a gun or knife.”

Crimes against taxi drivers dropped 75 per cent after cameras became mandatory in Toronto cabs in 2005. But the murder rate involving cab drivers still remains the highest of all occupations.

Following the brutal murder of driver Mahmood Bhatti by a passenger in 2006, Councillor Janet Davis brought forward a motion to approve partitions. It passed, and the idea is currently under review.

“The preliminary results show 53 per cent in favour of partitions,” Davis said. She believes both partitions and cameras may be necessary. “There are many violent incidents against taxi drivers every year, and we have an obligation to protect taxi drivers from murder and assault using whichever means possible.”

A study of taxi driver murders in 26 U.S. cities by the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health suggests that cameras have by far the bigger effect: the murder rate was seven times lower after cameras were introduced. But after examining 15 years of data, the study found that cities with partitions had the same cabbie murder rate as cities with no security measures at all.

Taxi drivers are divided on the idea of installing partitions.

Saleem Irshad, general manager of Diamond Taxis and a 30-year veteran of the industry, believes partitions will push customers to use limousines instead. “Toronto taxi cabs are small as it is, and if we have to install partitions, it will make it too uncomfortable to sit in the back.”

The city’s answer is expected in January, when the final results of the Taxi Industry Review are due to be published.



Effectiveness of Taxicab Security Equipment in Reducing Driver Homicide Rates

Nov 12

Northern Ireland Assembly Debates on 11 Nov 2013; Taxis: Single-tier Licensing System

Oliver McMullan (Sinn Féin)

2. asked the Minister of the Environment whether he fears that a single-tier licensing system would make the taxi industry less accountable, given that all taxis would be available to be hailed. (AQT 332/11-15)



Mark Durkan (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

Go raibh maith agat fá choinne na ceiste sin Thank you for that question, Mr McMullan. The move towards single-tier taxi legislation was due to be complete by September 2013. However, with the agreement of the Environment Committee, my predecessor decided to postpone the implementation until September 2014 in order to give the industry and those within it time to prepare for the implementation so that its impact will be less onerous on operators and drivers, and it will be more affordable for them.

As regards the implications of the move towards a single-tier system on competition, I have met several dozen taxi drivers and representatives of taxi drivers and companies and heard many concerns and views. It is complicated legislation, and it is important legislation, which will improve standards in the industry and improve accessibility, particularly for those with a disability. I am determined that we use the year that we have bought through postponing the implementation of the legislation to ensure that we get it right. I am happy to work with those representatives of the taxi industry and with Committee members to make sure that we make it as effective as possible.

Oliver McMullan (Sinn Féin)

I thank the Minister for his answer. Has advice been sought from any other jurisdiction that has implemented a single-tier taxi system to establish whether it has been successful?



Mark Durkan (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

As I said, the legislation is complicated. I believe that it was the first legislation passed in this House, and the fact that we are here, five years after its passage, and it still has not moved anywhere, is an indication of just how complex it is and how important it is that we get it right. There have been studies done of the taxi industry elsewhere. Every country and, indeed, most cities have their own particular taxi needs and issues. The case in point is Belfast, which we see as the place in the North that would be most severely impacted on by the introduction of the single-tier system. I suppose that Belfast public hire taxis fear what the impact might be on them. As I said, it is very important that we work together. I will also be working with my colleague the Minister for Regional Development on issues around ranks and bus lanes and how they can best be facilitated.

Nov 12

York minicab driver alleged to have ‘raped’ girl, 17, court told

A 51-YEAR-OLD minicab driver has been accused of raping a 17-year-old as he took her home from her boyfriend’s house, a jury was told.

Darren Lester, 51, also sexually assaulted the girl after turning into a country lane and stopping his car, alleged prosecutor Kitty Taylor.

In a video interview played to the jury at York Crown Court, the girl said the driver forced himself on her and she struggled to push him away.

She said she had tears running down her face afterwards as he asked her if she was “all right”. He asked if she was going to tell anyone what had happened, the court heard.

Mrs Taylor told the court: “She was vulnerable, alone in a taxi at the time. She had left her friends behind. The defendant abused that trust.”

The two had never met before the alleged attack late last November, and Lester later told police the girl had consented to the sex acts. He also said he had grown-up children older than her.

Lester, of Olympian Court, off Hull Road, York, denies rape and a sexual assault.

Opening the prosecution, Mrs Taylor said the girl had spent the evening with her boyfriend, at the end of which he had called a minicab for her to take her to a different part of York.

Lester had picked her up in Wigginton. She had been drinking in a private house, and was “tipsy”, but not drunk.

Lester was chatty and she became uncomfortable when he started making sexual remarks.

Mrs Taylor said when he stopped the car, Lester pinned the girl by both arms in her seat and tried to kiss her. She resisted and he sexually assaulted her and then raped her.

The girl said she did not know how she managed to stop him. He drove her to an area she recognised and she got him to drop her off some distance from her home.

As she walked home, she phoned her boyfriend and a friend and told them what had happened. They urged her to go to police.

She said she did not know what to do and she did not want her mother to know. She said Lester made her give him her phone number and after he dropped her off, he rang her.

She said while she was considering whether to go to police, she rang his number back to ask if he had cameras in the minicab.

Later she got a text from him asking if she wanted to come for a drink and she texted back that she didn’t want him to contact her again.

In February, during an argument with her mother, she told her what had happened and her mother told police. The trial continues.


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