Salford residents are being asked to put the brakes on abuse of taxi and private hire drivers.
Both private hire and black cab drivers say abuse, hate speech, violence and fare dodging happen too regularly and it’s time to call a halt.
As part of national Hate Crime week (1 to 7 February) Salford City Council is offering every driver a permanent sticker for their car asking customers to be kind and polite and reminding people that there is no place for hate in the city.
It is also launching a reporting tool for drivers to log abuse, violence and non-payment of fares so the council can support drivers and encourage reporting of such crimes to the police. The initiative has also been funded by money seized by Salford City Council’s trading standards team under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and from Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Police’s hate crime week funding.
Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said drivers should be respected as valuable front-line workers.
“Many people rely on taxis and private hire vehicles to get around so drivers should be treated with the same respect as any other key worker doing an essential job in these difficult times,” he said.
“There’s no place for hate in Salford full stop and stealing from self-employed drivers by running off without paying the fare is a very low blow. I hope drivers will make use of the new reporting tool so we can fully understand the issues they face and work to support them.”
Tom Rook, Chair of City of Salford Private Hire Association said he had been lucky enough to provide the police with evidence to convict several ‘customers’ but abuse and crime could have a devastating impact on drivers.
“It’s very hard for drivers to get over. As a self-employed driver I need to earn a living and I’m away from my family working long enough as it is without feeling unsafe or experiencing abuse, hate, theft or damage to my vehicle,” he said.
“At the moment drivers are asking customers not to ride beside them in the front seat. It’s amazing how many people react badly to that simple and polite request even though it is government guidance designed to keep them and the driver at a safe distance and minimise the health risks of catching and spreading the virus.
“All we’re asking is that people show some understanding and consideration for our drivers and their families; a friendly smile and chat makes everyone’s journey far more pleasant.”
Hackney cab driver Stuart Ryan said: “I left driving private hire after people put a knife to my throat and stole money. Some of the abuse drivers get is terrible.”