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Spies in cabs to beat thugs

PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:12 03 March 2010

THUGS who beat up taxi drivers over Christmas will be caught on camera, thanks to the latest hi-tech solution to stamp out the spiralling number of attacks.

THUGS who beat up taxi drivers over Christmas will be caught on camera, thanks to the latest hi-tech solution to stamp out the spiralling number of attacks.

In-car security cameras are set to become the norm from this week after it was revealed the number of drivers prepared to work Ipswich's no-go areas has dropped by a third.

Current estimates state an Ipswich taxi driver is involved in a "serious incident" or an assault once every two months.

The Ipswich Taxi Drivers' Association hopes a joint initiative with the police and council will contribute to the £400 cost of the camera in most of the town's 117 taxis and 200 private hire vehicles.

Secretary Eric Pearl said: "Nine months ago I was one of the 50 or so drivers who decided that the intimidation was so bad that I would stop working at night.

"Because of the number of attacks on taxi drivers we had two choices, either to make some areas of Ipswich such as Cardinal's Park, as a virtual no-go area or we could take a positive attitude."

It was when the taxi drivers threatened to pull out of the town centre completely that the police decided to make cabbies' complaints a priority.

Cabbies now regularly team up with police and the council to come up with a series of safety measures for drivers and passengers.

Another initiative will see night club owners set aside a safe indoors area for lone women to wait for taxis.

Mr Pearl, a taxi driver for 20 years, said: "The more taxis that are prepared to work at night is also better for passengers.

"The cameras will also give an extra sense of security to both the driver and passenger."

Other measures include encouraging friends to use the multi-seater taxis to speed up passenger dispersal and more taxis being on hand outside night-clubs.

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