Cambridge cabbies are calling for a dedicated 'taxi cop' after a pilot scheme was launched in Bristol and following a spate of disorder at city ranks.
The western city now has its own police officer targeting illegally-operating taxi drivers in the city.
The “taxi cop” scheme was launched just over a month ago and PC Patrick Quinton has been working to tackle unlicensed taxis, cut down on crime and abuse, and ensure taxi ranks are being used properly.
Now Cambridge taxi drivers are asking Cambridgeshire police to launch a similar scheme.
The plea comes after a 'taxi marshal' scheme at a Cambridge violence hotspot was deemed a failure - after the marshals failed to turn up.
The marshals in the market square were brought in after several people were hurt in a night of violence.
CCTV footage was released last year after taxi drivers were attacked in a night of violence at the market square rank.
A number of taxi drivers were assaulted and damage caused to their vehicles.
Four drivers suffered facial injuries and bruises after being punched by drunken ‘revellers’ in the market square.
And a man was recently jailed for eight years after he knocked out two men at a Cambridge taxi rank, leaving one with serious head injuries.
Pouria Sadjadi, 25, of Cadwin Field, Cambridge, was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday, April 16.
The assaults happened on September 16 last year, during the early hours outside the taxi rank in St Andrew’s Street.
Paul Bradley, vice chairman of the Cambridge Hackney & Private Hire Association which represents 200 drivers, said: "What we want is a well-informed police officer with knowledge of the trade out there enforcing laws that we are supposed to abide by.
"I know other cities have these too - why not ours? This would have a knock-on effect on quelling disputes and flashpoints caused sometimes by some drivers' behaviour."
The Bristol taxi cop, PC Patrick Quinton, told our sister paper Bristol Live: “My job is to ensure the safety of passengers, the public and taxi drivers and to help deliver an effective and quality transport system for Bristol and South Gloucester.
“I want to work with all hackney carriage and private hire vehicle drivers and operators to ensure residents and visitors receive an excellent service and to make sure they can operate in a competitive and fair industry.
“There will be no place for unlicensed drivers here. Identifying and prosecuting them is a high priority for me.
“I looking forward to getting to know all the drivers and I would ask them to come and say hello when they see me out and about on my electric bike, motorbike or car.”
The decision to put a taxi cop in place came from discussions between local authorities, the taxi industry and Bristol-based charity Stand Against Racism and Equality (SARI).
The Taxi Forum and SARI came up with a list of issues they felt needed tackling to help encourage a fair and competitive taxi business in Bristol.
SARI’s strategic director Alex Raikes MBE said: “It is really exciting to see the taxi cop initiative become a reality for Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
“This was an innovative idea that trade reps we were working with told us was making a positive difference in Birmingham.
“SARI has been working hard to tackle the hate crime, general crime and abuse that taxi drivers face on a too frequent basis.
“We want local members of the public to treat taxi drivers with the respect they deserve for helping make sure we have smooth and safe transport across the region.
“Equally we are keen to ensure that any rogue drivers who are not abiding by rules and regulations are tackled effectively as they impact on the reputation of all drivers and compromise the livelihoods of local trade too.”
Cambridgeshire police have been asked for comment.