TAXI drivers say they are running a gauntlet of violence "on a daily basis".

And they are renewing calls for CCTV cameras to be fitted in their cabs.

Hackney and private hire drivers say weekends are the worst when drunken thugs hammer at windows, kick door panels and refuse to pay.

They say they are not being backed by police, claiming officers will not get involved in what they see as civil matters.

Bolton Council has agreed to reconsider the idea of installing CCTV in cabs, hailed as a success during a pilot scheme five years ago.

But the cost of financing the installation of cameras and monitoring the footage could be a sticking point.

Charles Oakes, secretary of Bolton Hackney Drivers Association, said the town's 1,000 hackney and private hire drivers could lease back the cameras to cover the investment costs.

"You are talking a lot of money if you're going to get systems within vehicles that can't get tampered with by drivers or passengers and so can be produced in court as evidence," he said.

"Damage is on the increase and things happen on a daily basis.

"Passengers damage vehicles and smash windows, they have arguments with their girlfriend or boyfriend. We have gangs of men hammering on windows or diving on to taxis and so on."

"Drivers can no longer afford to put it through their insurance company so they are having to stand the cost on their own.

"It's usually people who've had a bit to drink but not always."

Mr Oakes, together with Sajid Khan of Bolton Private Hire Association, asked for the issue to be discussed at the next Bolton Taxis Consultative Panel meeting.

Cllr Hilary Fairclough, who chairs the panel, said: "Taxi drivers are vulnerable and I do understand their situation.

"On the whole they do a good job in protecting other vulnerable people and you hear horrible tales if they are assaulted or attacked.

"We are going to revisit the issue of CCTV to see if there's a way forward.

"It's difficult because it's not just buying the equipment but the monitoring which is an on-going cost.

"We would need a lot of other information about what happens in other towns and what the costs would be."

Ten drivers took part in the pilot scheme in 2002, which was intended to be extended to more than 50 vehicles, but scrapped due to financing problems.

Sheffield City Council recently piloted a £7,000 system to install CCTV in 33 cabs which was credited with reducing the number of violent incidents from one in seven to one in 100 fares. However, the cabbies will be expected to pay for camera installation in future.

Chief Inspector Martin Greenhalgh, from police in Bolton, said four officers from across Bolton had been designated as first points of contact for drivers who have safety issues and regularly attend meetings to listen to cabbies' concerns.

He said one suggestion was for drivers to agree a fare with passengers before setting off to avoid arguments late at night.

Mr Greenhalgh said officers could not intervene in disputes over fares because it was a driver's word against a passenger and so advised cabbies to take civil action.

He said: "Taxi drivers can be assured that if any violence is used or threatened, then officers would intervene to ensure the safety of everyone concerned.

"Officers appreciate that drivers can feel vulnerable working on their own, often late at night with people who may have had a drink too many."