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7 August 2010, 06:00
Taxi drivers in Watford are getting more protection to help keep them safe.
As part of the Altogether Safer Watford campaign - and following several assaults on drivers earlier this year - four new ideas are being introduced.
From this month if you get in a taxi at the Rickmansworth Road rank, you'll be recorded on CCTV by the marshals who already work there. You'll also be asked for some form of ID, which will be kept on record for 31 days, and passed to the police if any incidents take place.
Watford Borough Council Licensing Manager Jeffrey Leib said: “Passengers already have to provide their details when booking taxis over the phone or on the internet, and drivers are identifiable by their photo-badges and council licence plates. Although this is a small culture change for night-time passengers to produce some ID, we feel this is necessary to help reassure drivers, who are some of the most vulnerable to attack in Watford’s workforce.”
Alongside the extra checks, six areas have been set up as 'Safe Havens' for drivers. If cabbies are feeling threatened, they can pull over at one of the spots - which are on major routes leaving the town centre. The Safe Havens all have CCTV and are well lit places, with other people nearby. It's hoped the police will be able to access the areas quicker than if the driver was still travelling or had stopped at the side of a road.
Lastly, in September a driver safety day is being held, for cabbies to try out and buy a range of protective equipment for their cars, including panic alarms, security screens and CCTV.
Chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, Councillor Jan Brown, said: “It is recognised worldwide that driving licensed vehicles can be a dangerous occupation due to the isolated nature of the job. We view our licensed drivers as an essential part of the local public transport network and our night-time economy, and we are pleased to be able to offer these simple steps to help protect them as they go about their daily business.
“We hope that the public will understand why they may be occasionally asked for ID when getting a taxi from the Rickmansworth Road rank, and that drivers will take advantage of the measures being put in place for their protection.”