When safety is spoken of within the taxi and private hire industry the focus is primarily placed upon the customer and their well-being.
There is however a glaring omission from both regulatory bodies, as well as the government where driver safety is concerned.
In recent weeks we have seen drivers from both the taxi industry and the private hire sector become victims of attack from either customers or gamgs of individuals.
These are not isolated incidents, yet the police seem powerless to deal with what is becoming a major problem.
In one of the latest incidents, yet another taxi driver, a female, was attacked in the Lisson Grove area of London. Despite the attack taking place on December 24, the case was closed by police just four days later, with the victim receiving what can only be perceived to be the usual standard letter in a failed attempt to placate the her. It was however noted at the bottom of the letter a sentence saying "To help us improve, you may be contacted by us, the Mayors Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) or a company they appont to ask questions about the service you have received."
Now let that last sentence sink in for a brief moment.....On one had the case jas allegedly been investigated, and subsequently closed after four days, one of those days being Christmas Day, and in the same letter a question is being asked about the quality of the service.
Unless IQs have dropped sharply, one would suspect that the answer is glaringly obvious, this however, is not an isolated case, this seems to be happening with more and more regularity.
Attacks on both taxi and PHV drivers are nothing new, but there is, on the surface at least, a major explosion in incidents surrounding both industries, some of them extremely serious.
Let's be clear, the police cannot be blamed for how these crimes are dealt with, successive governments have wielded the knife so severely toward the thin blue line that Jack the Ripper is sitting up in his grave watching in grim admiration. As a result, the police just do not have the resources to deal with this problem.
Unfortunately, what is seeming to be the norm is government sitting on its clammy hands, doing marginally less than nothing to combat the situation.
So what should be done?
Taxi and PHV driving is a singular industry, you are completely alone at the mercy of any given individual, you are vulnerable, with no protection. This being the case ALL vehicles which are used as taxis or private hire vehicles MUST be fitted with both internal AND external cameras as a condition of fitness. This should not fall at the drivers door where cost is concerned, there should be a ring-fencing of funds from within license payments to facilitate their purchase and installation.
All crimes involving taxi or private hire should also fall under the auspices of the British Transport Police, as well as respective local police services, with a phone app linking the driver directly to the police, in the same way that the bus network has this facility.
Finally sentences should be punitive, with a mandatory minimum 24 month prison sentence placed anybody who attacks a driver within the public or private transport industry.
One of the reasons why the public attack lone drivers is because they know that they are highly likely to get away with it, and therefore there are are no consequences to their actions.
One of the worrying aspects regarding driver safety is the fact that looking across social media, drivers are now threatening to take the law into their own hands because of the lack of support from the police and the government, and quite frankly they cannot be blamed for thinking this way, although obviously it cannot be condoned.
Both the taxi and private hire industry have had statistics thrown at them like confetti by respective police service representatives, stating that there are only a certain number of attacks reported so therefore the problem cannot be as bad as is claimed. What these representatives are failing to appreciate is the fact that drivers aren't reporting the attacks because in the past and present they aren't treated as a problem, taken seriously, and in some cases not investigated at all, so they are rightly asking what the point is of reporting the crime if nothing is going to be done.
Faith has been lost by both industries in the police service because of their lack understanding of the problems faced by drivers.
There really does now need to be affirmative action taken, iron in the words spoken by government and local authorities, as well as the police, instead of weak, feeble and lame excuses, which are ultimately meaningless and could potentially put honest, hard-working drivers lives at risk.