Preston taxi drivers say they fear for their safety after a spate of attacks on their cars.Advertisement
The attacks, which are concentrated around New Hall Lane and Blackpool Road, involve youths throwing objects at cabs.
A recent incident near Farringdon Park saw an object pierce a taxi door, missing the window by centimetres, while the driver had his young daughter and sister in the car.
However the city’s cabbies say the attacks go back a number of years.
One ex-driver, Khalid Nakhuda, who is now manager of Ashton Allied Taxis, said he has called police over 40 times in the past three years for similar incidents.
Khalid said: “These kids throwing objects could kill somebody – they don’t realise the severity of what they’re doing.
“Nothing ever gets done by the police so I don’t bother ringing anymore. Drivers are at the end of their tether, especially with business being so bad because of Covid-19.
“They are giving up hope and feel the only time something will be done is when somebody gets killed.”
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Khalid himself has been a victim of such an attack, when a brick was thrown at his car seven years ago.
“The noise and shock caused me to veer on to the opposite side of the road, and I almost crashed into an oncoming vehicle. I could have been killed.
“When I started out 30 years ago, passengers would do a runner, which they thought was funny, and you took that on the chin as being part and parcel of the job. Now they want to harm you, they’ve got knives and it’s scary.
“The older taxi drivers have given up and retired. It’s not a safe job anymore.”
Read more: Police want to trace man after serious assault just off New Hall Lane
Khalid says he’s disappointed with the lack of support from police and Preston City Council.
“Taxi drivers are third or fourth class citizens; we don’t count.
“At the start of the pandemic, the council in Blackburn paid for protective screens to be installed in taxis. I suggested it to Preston City Council and they came back on email to say they weren’t interested.
“The Council aren’t doing anything for us, they just take our money. There should be an initiative to protect targeted vehicles.”
Following the Farringdon Park incident, one of Khalid’s fellow taxi drivers petitioned the Council to remove stickers and plates from private hire vehicles for the safety of both drivers and passenger.
The petition claims such livery is no longer required now customers either telephone or use an app to arrange a taxi and have all the details of the vehicle in advance.
It suggests copying the approach in London, where a small badge is displayed in a taxi’s rear window.
Although the petition was rejected, the Council say they are concerned about the safety of taxi drivers.
Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “The council’s policy on e-petitions does not allow those relating to planning or licensing issues, which is why this particular one was rejected.
“However, the concerns and safety of Preston taxi and private hire drivers is taken seriously and the issues raised are being looked into.
“No-one should have to endure abuse or attacks while trying to do their job, which is why we encourage drivers to report all incidents to the Police.”
Speaking about the incident near Farringdon Park, a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “We received a report of vehicle damage on New Hall Lane, Preston.
“A group of youths are reported to have been throwing objects at passing cars at around 6pm on 12 November. Enquiries are ongoing.
“Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting log number 1171 of November 12th.”
In the meantime the city’s taxi drivers will continue to drive in fear.
Khalid said: “It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed, but why wait until it happens?”
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What do you think about the attacks on taxi drivers? Is enough being done to keep them safe? Let us know in the comments.