CCTV to curb taxi crimes

Taxi rank at Leven's Shorehead
Taxi rank at Leven's Shorehead

CCTV cameras could be installed in taxis within weeks following a sharp increase in verbal and physical assaults on drivers.

That’s according to Levenmouth Taxi Association chairman Pete Meldrum, who says he’s never experienced such a spate of violence and fraud directed at drivers before.

He said: “In one recent incident one of our drivers was pulled from his car and beaten up on North Street, Leven, because passengers were in the car and he refused to let the young man in.

“Bouncers at McPhails and the young passengers managed to get this guy off him and I’d like to thank them for helping.

“But there’s been four or five different incidents recently, for example, punching dashboards, lashing out at a female driver, etc.

“In the past we had the odd isolated incident. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Mr Meldrum, who owns 12 of 55 taxis in Levenmouth said CCTV was an essential step in safeguarding drivers.

“In each case I’ve asked drivers if they’ve phoned the police and they say ’what’s the point?’ They don’t come and nothing gets done,” he said.

“I have to say there’s a lack of confidence between drivers, operators and the police.”

He added: “Police report 600 incidents of taxi fraud in Fife over the last year – that figure must be the tip of the iceberg.”

But Police Scotland said offences against drivers had fallen over the past year and“whenever a crime is reported it is investigated thoroughly and victims are assured information we receive relating to an offence will be taken seriously and provided with an appropriate police response.”

On Thursday, a Fife Council regulation and licence committee meeting took place involving police and taxi associations to discuss CCTV cameras.

The Procurator Fiscal’s office is due to advise on technology suitable as evidence.

Vice-chairman Cllr Tom Adams said drivers had a basic right to be able to carry out their job in safety.

“The public have a duty to treat taxi drivers with a lot more respect than they’re experiencing at the moment,”

“I think cameras will be trialled first and, as well as keeping a record, a CCTV sign might make someone think twice about doing a runner or assaulting the driver.”