How do you deal with fare dodgers?

Taxi drivers earn their living by taking passengers from one place to another. When a refuses to pay, surely it is theft. But, for some reason, some people view it differently to someone stealing an item from a shop.

Now one taxi driver wants more to be done about the growing problem which is affecting him and other drivers more.

The issue came to light after Ipswich taxi Mohammed Ullah called police on each occasion passengers tried to dodge paying their fares – sometimes up to £30 – but was told it was a civil matter and not a criminal matter.

He complained to Suffolk Police and has since received an apology – and is calling for more help to be given to taxi drivers in similar situations.

Mr Ullah, 42, told the Ipswich Star that he had to complain each time he called police after customers failed to pay for a journey and that it was happening several times each month.

In desperation, he told the Star that he wrote to Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and cited legislation to show it was a criminal matter.

Mr Ullah wrote: “Unfortunately, the support I expected from the Suffolk Police has been absent, leading me to escalate this matter to an official complaint.

“The response I have received thus far from the police operators has been inadequate, either labelling the issue as a civil matter or discouraging me from contacting the police unless it is a life-threatening situation.”

Ipswich Borough councillor Ruman Muhith has backed the fed-up cabbie’s calls and argued Mr Passmore needs to work with Chief Constable Rachel Kearton to deal with fare dodgers.

Cllr Muhith said: “This issue, although operational, demands joint co-operation between the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner and the Suffolk Police Chief Constable.

“It is crucial to ensure a robust understanding of relevant legislation among police officers and call operators.

“If the PCC and the Chief Constable work closely in consultation with both taxi drivers and taxi operators, this can lead to effective strategies that deter such offences.”

Since raising the matter with the police and crime commissioner, Suffolk Police has said it will listen to recordings of the calls he logged and improve training where necessary.

A spokesman told the Star: “We have apologised to Mr Ullah if the service fell below the expected standard. We have also discussed the online reporting tool available on the Suffolk police website as well as reassurance that Suffolk police do take these offences seriously.”

The issue also has the attention of the police and crime commissioner. Mr Passmore told the Star: “It is quite outrageous that anyone trying to earn a decent living should be repeatedly hindered in this way.

“I understand from the Constabulary they have been unable to identify the reference number provided by Mr Ullah, it appears it may have been provided by a different agency such as Action Fraud.

“In my correspondence with Mr Ullah, I have asked him to provide the reference supplied by the constabulary so I can take this matter up on his behalf.”

During a cost-of-living crisis when everything from fuel to taxi insurance is going up, those who try to steal from taxi drivers should face the full punishment of the law to deter them, and others, from trying to do it again.

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