Oswestry taxi drivers fear for their safety as Christmas approaches

Reporter:

Emily Davies

A taxi driver in Oswestry says he is fearing for his safety as the festive season approaches.

Independent cabbie John Morris said he and other taxi drivers were being repeatedly targeted by individuals who assault them in their vehicles.

And he said West Mercia Police isn’t taking action.

Mr Morris, who has been a taxi driver for six years, says he has been attacked in his vehicle six times in the past 12 months.

But despite CCTV being in operation in that area of town, he says little action is being taken by the police who, he says, have a declining presence in the town centre at night.

The 32-year-old from Trefonen told the Advertizer: “I keep getting assaulted but there are not as many police in the town, especially at closing time – because that’s when the trouble kicks off.

“Last Christmas I was attacked twice in one night, even though the taxi rank marshals were present because people fight to get into the taxis.

“People kick the taxis and all sorts – I’m starting to think that, with Christmas approaching again, it’s going to be a nightmare.”

John said he had twice been assaulted by a woman in recent weeks, and was not satisfied that police issued only a caution.

On another occasion, four years ago, a man opened the door of his taxi and punched him – just as police officers walked around the corner.

He said: “I told the officers what had happened and they never took the guy’s details or anything.

“I’m fed up with this treatment. I went to the police station with a black eye and still they didn’t do anything.

“If there was a police presence, it would help. The taxi marshals are doing their job but it doesn’t help us.

“I spoke to a police officer I was giving a lift to in my taxi and he said because Oswestry Police Station doesn’t have cells, they don’t want to take people to Shrewsbury because they can’t leave Oswestry without a police presence.

“But we pay our taxes and don’t get any protection.”

Sergeant Scott Barnes, from West Mercia Police, said: “We work closely with pubs and clubs in Oswestry, and with our other partners, to ensure people can work and enjoy a night out in a safe environment.

“We have to ensure officers are deployed where the operational risk is greatest and that there are a sufficient number of officers on duty to be able to respond to any incident.

“Anti-social behaviour and criminality in the town will not be tolerated and should be reported to police for action and investigation.”

Meanwhile, Shropshire Council, which runs the taxi marshal scheme, has confirmed a decision on its funding is due to be made by the Community Safety Partnership next month.

A spokesperson said: “Taxi marshalling in Oswestry has been funded by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) for a number of years. The provision of funding for this year will be discussed by the CSP’s bronze-level tasking group at their meeting in early December.”

Email:

emily.davies@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Advertizer

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