FRIGHTENED taxi drivers want CCTV cameras to be fitted in their cars to combat the rising numbers of attacks on them.
More than 40 drivers from Braintree and nearby towns are backing a drivers’ association request for public money to fund in-car CCTV to discourage violent and drunken behaviour from passengers.
Shegun Akindayini, who was viciously attacked and robbed of £100 of takings recently, said: “This is definitely something which could help us.
“At the very least there should be a CCTV camera covering the ranks.
“But a system in the car would mean we are protected at both ends of the journey, which would be ideal.”
Mr Akindayini’s ordeal began shortly after he picked up two young men and a woman from the Braintree town centre rank.
The group asked to be driven to the grounds of Braintree Town Football Club but a short way into the journey, began to argue among themselves over who would settle the fare.
Mr Akindayini asked them to clarify that they would be able to pay him at the end of the journey, and they reassured him that they could.
However, a short time later one of the men pulled the seatbelt he was wearing tightly around his neck, forcing him to stop the vehicle.
They then dragged him out and beat him before robbing him of the £100 he had taken that day in fares and fled on foot.
Despite reporting the robbery to the police, who issued an appeal for witnesses, no one has yet been brought to justice for the attack.
Mr Akindayini has only recently returned to working at nights.
He said: “I had to return to working nights – it is the only way I have of making a living.”
However, he still feels paranoid and becomes uneasy whenever a passenger sits down behind him.
Another driver, Barry Archer, said he was attacked by two men after driving them to Black Notley.
He said: “I called the police and reported it but they were never caught.
“CCTV would give them the evidence to find those who carry out the attacks.”
Robin Song, secretary to the town’s taxi association, which is calling for the security measures, said: “There has been a huge response to this suggestion, not just in Braintree but also in Witham and Halstead.
“I know there have been numerous instances of drivers being attacked, and strongly believe that something could be done to act as a deterrent.”
At a meeting of the town centre strategy group last week, councillors and businesspeople brought the matter to the attention of Essex Police’s chief constable, Jim Barker-McCardle.
Mr Barker-McCardle said: “I always want to help and support the taxi drivers as much as I can.
“It is worrying that they are more concerned about their safety than they used to be.”