Then founder of a new association for taxi drivers has spoken out against fellow trade members being treated as “human punching bags".

Shaz Malik has previously called for drivers across Bolton to follow his lead in bringing Hackney and Private Hire drivers together under a single association.

Now, following cases of violence against drivers in Bolton and beyond, the founder of Chorley based Four Sixes Taxis says this can also help protect members of his trade.

Mr Malik said: “Having a violent or aggressive customer is every taxi driver's worst nightmare.

“It can result in abuse, racial abuse, physical harm to the driver, or damage to the vehicle.

The Bolton News: Four Sixes Taxis boss Shaz MalikFour Sixes Taxis boss Shaz Malik (Image: Public)

“These situations usually arise because the customer refuses to pay their taxi fare.

“I strongly encourage all taxi drivers to report any such incidents to the police.

“While the process may be challenging and time-consuming, it is important to take legal action to prevent these crimes from happening again to other taxi drivers.”

Recent prominent incidents have included an attack on a taxi driver in Bromley Cross, who was pelted with stones and mud in July this year.

The Bolton News: Shaz Malik founded the Chorley Taxi AssociationShaz Malik founded the Chorley Taxi Association (Image: Chorley Taxi Association)

In February last year, police and councillors in the Breightmet area pledged to take action to protect drivers after a brick was thrown at a moving taxi.

But Mr Malik says the emphasis should also be on how customers behave.

He said: “To customers, my advice would be to avoid putting yourself in such a position in the first place.

“Taxi drivers have rights, and they can refuse service if they feel threatened.

“Racially abusing a taxi driver, damaging their vehicle, or assaulting them is offensive and against the law.

“Taxi drivers provide a service and should not be treated as human punch bags just because you are paying for their services.”

The Bolton News: Damage done to the taxi driver's car on the way to PrestonDamage done to the taxi driver's car on the way to Preston (Image: Public)

Mr Malik says that Bolton drivers would be safer if they followed his lead in forming a new, united association as he has done in Chorley.

He has drawn on the example of a colleague of his who was attacked by a man he had agreed to take to Preston, who he has supported since. 

The Chorley driver said: “I picked up a customer from the taxi rank and he requested a quote to go to Preston.

“However, as soon as we started driving, he suddenly changed his destination to McDonald's.

"I informed him that this change would result in additional charges, but he became verbally abusive towards me.

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“Despite this, I proceeded to drive him to McDonald's.

"Once we arrived, he then asked me to take him to a cash machine, all the while continuing his abusive behaviour.

“At this point, I realized that if I were to continue the journey to Preston, the situation might escalate and become violent.

“Concerned for my safety, I made the decision to take him back to an area with surveillance cameras in Chorley.

“During the return trip, he began throwing punches at the screen in an attempt to reach me.

“It was an extremely frightening experience, as we were unsure if he was carrying a weapon.”