Scale of threat facing taxi drivers in North Herts and Stevenage put in the spotlight
- Credit: Ila Desai
More than 60 cases of assault against taxi drivers in North Herts and Stevenage have been recorded in the last five years, the Royston Crow has learnt.
In Royston alone, there have been two assaults against drivers occasioning actual bodily harm, one in 2011 and another in 2014.
The Crow obtained the figures through a freedom of information request.
One former private hire driver from Royston, who did not want to be named, said: “I can see why people would feel threatened. As a private hire driver, I never knew who I was going to pick up, only their name and where to pick them up from.
“I always got passengers to sit in the passenger side at the back so they couldn’t throttle me or put a knife in my back.
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“I never had this, but a few of my former colleagues picked people up who did a runner without paying.”
The highest number of assaults against taxi drivers in the area was in Stevenage.
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There have been 44 recorded cases in the town over the last five years.
Of these, 22 were common assault without injury, 15 were assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and seven were cases of religious or racially aggravated assault.
The second highest figures recorded were in Hitchin, with nine assaults recorded over the last five years.
Roger Lafferty, owner of Hitchin taxi firm Castle Taxis said: “I don’t have this problem with my drivers.
“I think it’s mostly drivers that have their own cars who experience problems.
“Many of them overcharge, which means that people who are on a night out get angry and then lash out.”
In Letchworth there have been five cases of assault against taxi drivers in the same period, in which one was a religious or racially aggravated assault.
There has only been one recorded case of assault in Baldock.
Sgt Guy Westwood from the Royston & Royston Rural Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “As these figures suggest, assaults on taxi drivers are very rare in North Herts.
“But we would always advise that caution be used when dealing with difficult customers and to contact police if disputes arise and get out of hand.”