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Murder drives cabbie camera campaign

PUBLISHED: 16:46 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:31 23 August 2010

CAMPAIGNER: Terry James at Gravesend taxi rank

CAMPAIGNER: Terry James at Gravesend taxi rank

CABBIES are demanding CCTV should be installed in taxis across the country following a spate of attacks on drivers. Three were assaulted in two separate incidents in Dartford town centre last week following arguments about a fare. Now drivers in Gravesh

CABBIES are demanding CCTV should be installed in taxis across the country following a spate of attacks on drivers.

Three were assaulted in two separate incidents in Dartford town centre last week following arguments about a fare.

Now drivers in Gravesham, where CCTV in cabs is compulsory, have called for cameras to be installed in cabs in Dartford and also across the country to put an end to violence against their colleagues.

CCTV was first installed into cabs in Gravesham following the murder of 71 year old father of five Gian Chand Bajar, of Darnley Road, Gravesend, in 2007, a popular Sikh cabbie who was run over by his own cab.

Terry James, the owner of Gravesend Station Taxis is the chairman of the United Taxi Group, set up after the murder of Mr Bajar and which campaigns for safer cabs in the borough.

Mr James, a cabbie for more than 20 years, said: "It's appalling what's happened, it's appalling whenever a taxi driver is attacked.

"We are more than happy with the CCTV that has been brought in, and there has been a definite decrease in the number of attacks and assaults - it will never stop entirely but it does act as a deterrent to some.

"CCTV should be made compulsory in taxi's across the country, it has really helped us here, and should spread.

"If I was a driver in Dartford I would like to see CCTV brought in. It gives drivers that extra protection and makes you feel safer."

The first Dartford cabbie was attacked after he picked up two men in Dartford Road at about 11.30pm on February 15.

An argument over the fare began and the two men are then alleged to have assaulted the driver, he then dropped them in the town centre and they then chased his taxi along Spital Street and Kent Road.

The second two taxi drivers were assaulted in the same incident at Dartford Railway Station at midnight. One of the drivers needed hospital treatment after he was kicked around the head and body and the other received facial cuts and bruises.

Rick Davis, who is the joint secretary of the United Taxi Group, was one of the first drivers in Gravesham to have CCTV fitted.

He said that Gravesham has become a beacon for other taxi associations, and urged others to install cameras in their cars.

He said: "I am in total agreement with Terry. All the council's have to do is to go out there and apply for the funding, beg for it, and they will get it. We did.

"CCTV has become a lot more affordable, about half the price of what we paid for it a couple of years ago.

"It would be a boon to any driver, any one, as soon as they open their door are liable to getting attacked, and this just goes someway to making sure that doesn't happen.

"They really need to put pressure on the councils to get the funding they need."

In November 2007 a grant of £59,000 was announced through the Urban Thames Gateway, an EU scheme, towards the cost of the CCTV in cabs. This was matched by money from Gravesham Borough Council, (GBC) the drivers and Kent Police.

In September 2008 the scheme was approved by the GBC and CCTV in cabs was made compulsory in January last year.

In 2008, Luke Aujila, of no fixed abode, was convicted of Mr Bajar's murder and was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 20 years.

As the Reporter went to press, two men, aged 17 and 25, had been arrested in connection with the incident in Dartford, and were being questioned at North Kent Police station.

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