Rethink on CCTV in Sheffield taxis after attack

Arshad Mahmood.  Arshad Mahmood. with daughter Zahra Mahmood
Arshad Mahmood. Arshad Mahmood. with daughter Zahra Mahmood
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CAMERAS could be installed in Sheffield taxis to improve safety after an ‘appalling’ attack which left a driver blinded in one eye.

Sheffield Council says it will reconsider mandatory CCTV in its 857 Hackney cabs - a move council chiefs say has come about following the attack on Arshad Mahmood, who was hit in the face with a glass bottle.

The dad-of-three - who had simply asked his attacker not to drink alcohol in the vehicle - has lost the sight in his right eye.

Today Mr Mahmood’s family and taxi drivers welcomed the idea of cameras in Sheffield cabs - an initiative which could be rolled out to private hire vehicles if approved.

His wife Arsheed Mahmood told The Star: “Taxi drivers are there to take people home, not to suffer abuse.

“I think this would be a good idea because you would be able to catch people more easily and it might stop people doing things like this.

“It should have happened a long time ago but it is a good thing the council is talking about doing something about it and taking us seriously.”

Arshad, 40, was working as a private hire driver for City Taxis at the time of the unprovoked incident on Fox Hill Road.

He is now back home in Nether Edge but will need further surgery.

Arsheed added: “I have not been able to sleep properly, and now that Arshad has come home for a couple of weeks we’re trying to get back to normal.

“But we have to understand that things will never be back to normal.”

The council’s licensing committee is to look again at putting cameras in Hackney cabs, with the earliest date for a meeting in September, to prevent or reduce serious assaults.

Consultations will be held with taxi trade representatives.

Coun John Robson, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “In 2007 the licensing committee looked into the mandatory provision of CCTV cameras in taxis, but at that time was not convinced of their necessity.

“In view of this appalling attack we will now re-examine that decision.

“If we decide to make CCTV mandatory in all Hackney carriages we will look at ways to roll out the scheme further to ensure the safety of other taxi drivers and passengers.

“No decision has been made - it is likely to be legally complex - but we will look into the issue.”

Taxi drivers said verbal, and sometimes physical, attacks were common as was the problem of people running away without paying.

Driver Ajaz Ahmed said: “I think cameras are a great idea. A few years ago they started to put some in.

“The way things are these days, it’s getting worse and worse with 24-hour pubbing and clubbing.

“We’re are getting more abuse from people, especially when they’re drunk.

“I would welcome it - anything for safety of the drivers and passengers.”