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Community Relations' Meeting: Review.

Community Relations' Meeting: Review.

Post Brexit Community Relations Meeting held in Yeovil on 26th of April 2017 between Yeovil Taxi Drivers and representatives from Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset County Council, SARI and Diversity Voice turned out to be a success.


The idea for organizing the meeting has arisen after one of local Romanian taxi drivers was accused of having allegedly sexually assaulted his female customer. There were following incidents where foreign taxi drivers in Yeovil have been victims of hate crime.
Around 25 people attended the meeting including 18 taxi drivers and representatives of various organizations. The dialogue was constructive and after having heard first hand stories about racial abuse and helplessness from the taxi drivers, some ideas were shared about how to tackle the issue.

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Insp. Mark Edgington representing the Police highlighted the importance of social education of the public and treating matters fairly and seriously by the Police. He encouraged taxi drivers to report the incidents at the time they are happening so that the Police can deal with it quicker. If a complaint is made soon after the incident when all information is still fresh it is easier for the Police to investigate. If any issues arise from the complaints procedure the process can be reviewed on how to improve the way their Police officers deal with these situations. The complaint process is monitored and each complaint is investigated. The taxi drivers can contact SARI for support and advice. Tom Rutland from Somerset County Council shares the opinion with the Police. They cannot do anything about issues they do not know about. The feeling among taxi drivers is that, because they are foreigners no one will listen to them. And this is the feeling the Police wants to change.

 

SARI mentioned installing cameras or notices about CCTV in cars as a deterrent. The 3-month trial they have made in Bristol brought positive results. Taxi drivers said there is one taxi firm in Yeovil that has cameras and stickers in their cars. Sometimes this may help, but when a customer is too drunk they wouldn’t even notice stickers or cameras. They want some reassurance that they are listened to and criminals are prosecuted. They want to feel supported and protected. Regarding the distinctive character of weekend work, ideas of broadening support and establishing a partnership with pubwatch have come up.

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Although it was the first meeting, the general opinion is that it was not the last and the issues raised need to be reviewed. Most importantly, the discussion has started and taxi drivers know there is some extra support available. Hate crime is a shared problem, which we all have to address and solve. 

click on link to read report from the meeting Report

 

Click here to watch highlights of the meeting