Cabbie's terror as violence erupts

A TERRIFYING attack on a taxi driver has reignited fears about violence against cabbies.

Teenage thugs threatened to slit the throat of the dad-of-two during a knifepoint robbery.

And now the problem is back on the Kirklees agenda for taxi firms, police and council officers.

In last week's 2am attack near Wakefield, four people grabbed Mohammed Waheed, of Ravensthorpe, around his neck and pinned him to his seat before brandishing a blade. Mr Waheed, 46, said the attackers were swearing and shouting racist abuse as they demanded his takings.

He said: "They said 'Give me the money or we are going to cut your throat'. I could not breathe, they were holding me so tightly. I was so frightened. I thought they were going to do it."

But he told the robbers he could not give them the money, and as they released him he hit the taxi's panic alarm and blasted the car's horn. The robbers kicked his car before running off.

It is not the first time the Ace Taxis driver has faced danger. In December he was threatened and had his car and takings stolen during a drop-off.

Police are also appealing for information after an assault on a taxi driver in Wyke.

The cabbie picked up three people in Dewsbury just before midnight on March 29, and drove to the Bierley estate, then the Euroway trading estate – where two of the suspects attacked the 23-year-old driver, leaving him with cuts and bruises.

The suspects were two white men, aged 16 to 20, and a black male aged 20 to 25. A blonde, white female aged 16 to 20 was also in the taxi.

Akooji Badat, vice-chairman of Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association, was meeting police and council officials this week about violence against cabbies.

He said: "The police do their best, but in the last couple of months there has been a huge increase in attacks. We are very concerned."

Mr Badat partly blames the recession and job losses.

But he hopes progress can be made. "Not long ago we had nothing but trouble at Batley's Wilton estate, but it's ok now," he said. "But the problem keeps coming back."

He pinpointed current violence hotspots as Dewsbury Moor, Chickenley and parts of Thornhill in Dewsbury and Mirfield's London Park estate.

Mr Badat said: "Usually we boycott areas which are a real problem. We expect the public to understand that we are doing a good job, and most people do."

Amar Farrok, acting manager of Town Cars in Birstall, agreed the Batley situation had improved. "We get the odd incident, with Chickenley and Dewsbury Moor the worst," he said.

Colin's Taxis in Cleckheaton is also counting its blessings. A spokesman said: "We are lucky – attacks on our drivers have been rare. But staff are told to walk away rather than try to get the fare from a troublemaker. We want them to live to work another day."

But Dewsbury-based Royal Taxis owner Mahmood Hussain said violence was becoming increasingly common.