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Taxi drivers 'fearful' after string of vicious attacks

By Deborah McAleese

Published 07/04/2015

Great Victoria Street in Belfast city centre teems with taxis serving the night-time economy
Great Victoria Street in Belfast city centre teems with taxis serving the night-time economy

Taxi drivers are becoming increasingly nervous about their personal safety following the latest in a number of vicious attacks.

A man armed with a cross bow threatened a taxi driver who picked him up at Templemore Street in east Belfast at around 2.15am yesterday.

The man asked the driver to take him to the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey.

When they arrived in the area he pulled a crossbow from a plastic bag and demanded money.

Cash was handed over and the robber fled on foot.

The driver was not injured but was left badly shaken, police said.

In January a taxi driver had his vehicle hijacked at knifepoint in west Belfast.

A few days later teenagers armed with a machete attempted to hijack a taxi in Dunmurry.

Following yesterday's robbery taxi drivers said they have become nervous about working late at night.

"I stopped doing late night work because I had some trouble with a group of lads a few times and it made me feel nervous. But there are some drivers who have to work late hours for family or financial reasons and they don't have a choice," one driver said.

Another added: "I know a lot of drivers who are beginning to think twice about the areas they taxi in, especially late at night.

"It's a tough enough job to make a living out of. I need the money, but if I'm unsure about a fare I now refuse it. You can be very vulnerable in that car on your own."

Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said he was concerned by the attacks.

"These men and women are trying to make a living and it is disgraceful that they are being targeted by these thugs. Taxi firms need to ensure measures are in place to try and keep their drivers safe," Mr Craig added.

Belfast Telegraph

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