Attack on Leeds taxi driver leads to calls for police to ramp up efforts against youths throwing stones at vehicles

Taxi drivers have called for police to step up efforts to combat attacks against them after a man was injured by a brick thrown at his vehicle.

By Susie Beever
Saturday, 7th November 2020, 6:00 am
Taxi vandalised in Leeds last year
Taxi vandalised in Leeds last year

The taxi driver was taken to hospital with a head injury on Bonfire Night following reports of fireworks, stones and bricks being thrown at passing cars on York Road, Leeds.

Asif Afzal, a fellow taxi driver in the city, said police had been "falling short" in efforts to tackle the problem after approaching them two years ago to discuss it.

He said drivers had been increasingly experiencing incidents of targeted attacks from roadsides and bridges, and that this was "almost exclusively" from young people.

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Asif Afzal pictured with other taxi drivers at a protest outside Elland Road Police Station in Leeds last year

"This is something that we raised with West Yorkshire Police a couple of years ago," he said.

"We've been talking about it since then and one year ago we did the protest outside Elland Road police station to raise awareness.

"The police have put some measures in place but they're still falling short, given the seriousness of the situation.

"We feel they haven't gone far enough to go into the schools and educate children of the dangers of this horrible anti-social behaviour of throwing stones at vehicles, whether it be buses, taxis or anybody."

Following Thursday night's incident, Mr Afzal has now called for police to tackle the issue "at grassroots" by educating children in schools about the dangers of throwing objects at passing vehicles.

He continued: "We told police last year that something like this would happen and that it was only a matter of time before someone would get seriously hurt.

"It feels like nothing proactive has been done since then and a proper approach has not been taken to protect the city's taxi drivers.

"We need officers going into schools and talking to parents because it is almost exclusively young people attacking us from the side of the roads.

"Nobody should feel threatened or unsafe in their place of work."

Inspector Jodie Scatchard, who heads West Yorkshire Police's Leeds East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This type of criminal and anti-social behaviour is completely unacceptable and presents obvious dangers to drivers, passengers and other road users.

“We remain committed to working closely alongside our partner agencies and the taxi operators and bus companies to do everything we can to tackle these issues.

“Officers have been working with Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team over recent months and have issued prohibition notices to a number of local youths banning them from this area.

“We will continue to work proactively to identify anyone involved in these types of offences and take appropriate action against them.

“We will also be continuing our work with schools and youth organisations to get across how dangerous stone throwing incidents are and the serious consequences that can result from this type of behaviour.”

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