Archive - Saturday, 14 July 2001
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Taxi driver hails spy in cab launch
A TAXI driver who was robbed at gunpoint two months ago has welcomed the introduction of pioneering CCTV cameras to protect cabbies.
Yesterday, the town's three MPs joined council officials and taxi drivers for the official launch of a new in-car system which offers extra security to Bolton black cab and private hire drivers.
The scheme -- a mix of high-tech cameras and specialised tracking devices allowing police to 'home in' on cabs under attack -- comes 3 years after private hire driver Quadir Hussain was killed as he tried to flee violence in his cab.
Ten cameras have been fitted in cars so far and, if the pilot scheme proves a success, more Bolton drivers could lease the specialised equipment for rental fees of about £15 a week.
David Adams, 39, who drives for a private hire firm, has already had the equipment fitted into his cab just two months after an attacker held a gun to his neck and stole his takings.
The taxi driver was set upon as he dropped off the offender in Radcliffe town centre in the early hours.
He said: "This new system will give me and my wife peace of mind. I wish I'd had it in my cab when I was attacked. I was very nervous about picking people up after the incident.
"My customers think it is a great idea. It not only offers reassurance for the driver but also for the passengers."
The pilot scheme -- due to run fort a month -- has been funded by the private sector at a cost of £25,000, together with a grant from Greater Manchester Police.
The system, developed by Holmfirth firm Vetatech, allows staff at a central monitoring centre in Gloucester to monitor cabs and alert police if the driver activates a panic button.
Cllr Guy Harkin, Bolton Council's executive member for environment, said: "It is the first such system in the country and, with well publicised cases of attacks on taxi drivers, it is a timely development."
Taxi drivers hope a full-scale introduction of the safety scheme will also lead to reductions in insurance premiums.
Bolton's three MPs -- Ruth Kelly, Dr Brian Iddon and David Crausby -- were all on hand to see the system put through its paces yesterday. Dr Iddon (Bolton South-east) said: "I congratulate Bolton Council on what appears to be a national pilot scheme using CCTV in cabs."