St Albans taxi drivers left in fear after passenger hospitalised and vehicles vandalised
PUBLISHED: 14:35 03 March 2015 | UPDATED: 16:13 03 March 2015
Taxi drivers have been left fearing for their safety following repeated vandalism to their cars and a serious assault on a passenger at the weekend.
Taxis picking up passengers on St Peter’s Street, St Albans, on Friday and Saturday nights have been damaged by club and pub goers.
The Herts Advertiser has been told of a string of incidents, including in the early hours of Saturday morning (28) when a 17 year old boy was hospitalised after allegedly being attacked while sitting in a taxi.
It is believed he was attacked by a group of around six young men and women, who smashed the car window before assaulting him.
The attack follows other instances of vandalised taxis in the past few weeks, with two occurring the previous weekend.
In the early hours of Sunday (22) morning, a fight started among passengers inside one of the taxis and after the driver asked them to leave the vehicle, they began to kick and vandalise it.
Within two hours another taxi had its wing mirror punched off by a man walking past. The same man had just been dropped off by another taxi, but refused to pay his fare.
Another case of vandalism to a St Albans taxi occurred a few weeks earlier, when bouncers put a drunk and aggressive club goer into a cab, which he later damaged.
Mudassar Yasin, general secretary for St Albans and Harpenden Taxi Association (SAHTA), believes they have minimal support from the police.
He said: “The taxi trade get no support from the police, who vacate the town centre at 2.50am just before the club closes, leaving drivers to fend for themselves.
“They’re not taking our safety into this. What will it take for them to notice?”
A spokeswoman for Herts Police said: “I would like to reassure people that St Albans is a safe place to enjoy a night out and those working in the city should also feel safe to go about their business. We do patrol the town centre and have a 24 hour policing response in St Albans and we also work closely with local authorities, including CCTV operators, to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent and detect crime.
“The introduction of a taxi rank marshall some years ago reduced the number of allegations made and crimes committed against taxi drivers and still works effectively.
“Any criminal matter reported is investigated promptly and dealt with effectively and I would like to reassure taxi drivers and any other member of the community that all reports of crime will be investigated and taken seriously.
“The police fully support victims of crime and investigate any crime reported to establish the facts surrounding those allegations. Each investigation will be reliant on the lines of enquiry available and the support of the victim is paramount as early in the investigation as possible.
“I would encourage anyone who is a victim of a crime to report the incident and assist us by ensuring all information which could assist the an investigation is brought to our attention.”