Published Friday 22 November 2019 at 16:38
A multi-agency meeting was held last night to address concerns around attacks on taxis.
Several incidents over recent weeks have seen taxis and other vehicles damaged in areas of Blackburn by youths throwing stones and rocks at vehicles.
Lancashire Police, and officers from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Licensing team and Community Safety Partnership were at the meeting to discuss concerns and look at ways to work together to tackle the problem.
Geographic Inspector Martyn Holt told the meeting that Police patrols have been stepped up in the hotspot areas. He said they are carrying out ongoing undercover operations to identity perpetrators and have been visiting schools to warn pupils of the dangers and appeal for information.
He said one 14-year-old had been questioned and further inquiries are currently ongoing.
Inspector Holt said:
We know that this is a problem across Lancashire and indeed other parts of the country. We believe it is young people causing mischief and that needs to stop before somebody is seriously harmed. We are not here to criminalise the young, but we need to protect the public. There is ongoing anti-social behaviour in parts of town and your customers will be feeling it home as well as you are doing.
This is a priority for us and we are doing everything we can as a partnership with the local authority, to use the expertise of youth outreach to engage and educate young people.
We are also deploying decoy cars with CCTV to act as a deterrent and to help us to identify the people responsible so we can take appropriate action.
Drivers staged a blockade on Accrington Road last week in a bid and to stand-up against the dangerous behaviour.
Around 30 drivers and operators attended the meeting and said some attacks have been so severe that they have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and are lucky to not have seriously injured the driver or passengers.
Saghier Hussain, from Blackburn’s Private Hire Association, was at the meeting to represent 280 drivers.
We are thankful that this is being taken seriously because we don’t want somebody to be seriously injured, we have a duty to put the safety of our passengers first.
Having a rock thrown through a window could kill someone. We need to work together with the Police and Council. Drivers can help by reporting any incidents to the Police so they can take appropriate action.
A special communication group is being set-up between the Police and taxi drivers to be able to share information between each other and to keep drivers updated on key action and activity.
Martin Eden, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Director of Environment and Operations, said:
What has been happening is totally unacceptable and is quite frankly disgraceful behaviour.
Anyone going out to earn a living does not deserve to be attacked and withstand the financial burden of having to repair their vehicles.
The people carrying out these mindless acts need to think, what they are doing could seriously injure or kill someone.
We are sending a clear message that criminal damage and attacks of this nature are shameful and we will be doing everything we can to support the Police and drivers.
We are monitoring CCTV and using all the necessary powers at our disposal to make those responsible accountable.
Inspector Holt appealed for the drivers to assist by reporting all incidents to the Police as he told the meeting that even if there wasn’t an immediate response, all reports are logged and help to identify patterns and better target Police resources.
He also called on taxi operators and drivers, if safe to do so, to send in any photographic evidence to help trace those responsible.
Anyone with any information can ring 101 or Crimestoppers on: 0800 555 111