Calls for CCTV in Hartlepool taxis after cabbie’s knife ordeal

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COUNCIL chiefs are recommending the use of CCTV in taxis after a cabbie was allegedly injured by a knife-wielding passenger.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s guidance comes after a driver for town firm 23 Taxis suffered cuts to his hands during the ordeal.

Ian Harrison

Ian Harrison

The man, in his 40s, was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, after the incident, which happened in Musgrave Walk, around 2am on Saturday.

He was released later that day and is still off work recovering.

Taxi bosses say if CCTV systems were fitted in cabs then “people might think twice” about attacking drivers.

And council chiefs are recommending the cameras are used in a bid to protect town cabbies.

A spokesman for 23 Taxis said: “Our driver came out of hospital on Saturday.

“He has cuts to his hands and he has had stitches.

“I would say it has got worse for taxi drivers over the last couple of years.

“There is a big debate about CCTV and having cameras in cars, that might be coming in.

“It might just make people think twice then about causing trouble.”

Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Council’s principal trading standards and licensing Officer, said: “A number of years ago Hartlepool Council was able to obtain external funding and tried to encourage taxi drivers to install CCTV systems with an offer of a 50 per cent subsidy towards the cost of their cameras.

“Overall costs were far greater then than they are now and most drivers declined the offer.

“I am aware that systems are much cheaper now and can be bought for less than £100.

“While the council has no money to buy these for drivers I have always recommended them as a useful aid - acting as both a deterrent and a means to help catch those who abuse or assault drivers.

“The council’s position is clear. CCTV cameras are permitted so long as potential customers are informed before their journey starts that they are being filmed (usually by the display of prominent signage) and that subsequent video footage is only used for crime prevention purposes.

“I am aware of some drivers who have recently installed cameras, at a low cost, and the licensing team would be happy to speak to any other drivers who are interested.”

Anthony Whitelock, 28, of The Front, Seaton Carew, was yesterday remanded in custody by Hartlepool magistrates after he was charged with grievous bodily harm, possession of a weapon, namely a kitchen knife, and possession of amphetamine, all on March 8, as well as an attempted robbery on March 7.

He has still to enter pleas to the counts and will appear at Teesside Crown Court on Monday, March 24.