A new scheme is being rolled out in Durham which will allow taxi and private hire drivers to request payment in advance.
A rise in incidents where passengers have avoided paying their fares has sparked the initiative which is seen as a bid to reduce such incidents.
Durham Constabulary has set up ‘Over 10 Pay There and Then’ - drivers can only request upfront payment if the journey is likely to exceed £10.
The scheme, which is currently being rolled out across most of the county, allows taxi drivers to request pre-payment when the fare involves certain risk factors, including intoxication, large groups and fares taken at night, the Hartlepool Mail reported.
A number of firms have already signed up so passengers can expect to start seeing the ‘Over 10 Pay There and Then’ badges appearing inside vehicles.
Drivers who have signed up can ask for the full payment in advance, although they will still run the meter so passengers can see they have been charged the correct amount. If the metered fare exceeds what has already been paid, the passenger will need to pay the remainder at the end of the journey.
DS David Bailey, who has been working alongside A/DI Gavin Wilkes to set-up the project, said: “This is a ground-breaking scheme, as previously, taxi drivers haven’t been able to ask for money in advance but now hopefully this will reduce the number of offences taking place.
He went on to add that drivers who have already signed up to the scheme have welcomed the new initiative as these incidents waste a lot of time for everyone involved, with many of these offences taking place during periods where the authorities have many other incidents to deal with so can't attend the call-out in sufficient time.
This will allow drivers to get back to their jobs without any major holdups.
More hackney carriages will be approached in the coming weeks in order to get them on board.