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Taxi driver Imtiaz Khan attacked driving to West Watford
Imtiaz Khan was taking a customer to West Watford in the early hours when the man began punching him.
Watford taxi drivers are at "crisis point" after three were left battered, bleeding and humiliated by customers in late night assaults this year.
In January, Atique Rahman was beaten up over a £3.50 fare dispute, and then in February another driver, Azmat Shah, was so badly attacked he was scared to go back to work.
On Sunday morning Imtiaz Khan, 57, was taking a customer to West Watford in the early hours when the man began punching him in the head, causing Mr Khan to lose control of his car and crash into a parked vehicle.
He lost a tooth and had to go to hospital. The man also stole £100 from his car. Furthermore, Mr Khan estimates the damage to his car will run into the thousands.
He said: "He was hitting me and I tried to escape but my car was up against another, I tried to open the door but I was stuck.
"As soon as he got the money he stopped attacking me and ran off."
Shafiq Ahmed, chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, said ten drivers had reported being assaulted to him in the past two years.
He said this number does not include the hundreds of others who are punched, kicked, spat at or subjected to racist abuse and do not report it.
Mr Ahmed said the real tragedy with these incidents is that many could be avoided if the taxi had been fitted with a safety screen, a see-through shield protecting the driver from passengers in the back seat.
He is also campaigning for CCTV to be installed in taxis, which he says will save the police time and money by eliminating the need for a lengthy investigation, something the council, which licences and regulates taxis, has repeatedly refused to fund.
Chairman of the town’s licensing committee, councillor Jan Brown, said: "Taxpayers would not want their money spent furnishing private vehicles with cameras.
“CCTV camera prices have fallen in price in recent years and can actually be bought for under £200.”
Mr Ahmed added: "This is happening so often and the complaints to the local authority are falling on deaf ears. We are at crisis point.
"Work is at an all time low because of the economy. We can’t afford the £800 for the cameras.
"If the council bought them in bulk they could negotiate a better deal and we could contribute to the cost that way. There is a crime prevention fund in Watford which we could use.
"The police were there for three hours on Sunday after Mr Khan was attacked, cordoning off the area and searching with dogs.
"CCTV and safety screens would save taxpayer money by removing the need for a police investigation."
Safety shield manufacturer Ron Corbett conducted research with the National Private Hire Company and found in the UK, 63 taxi drivers had been murdered in the past 20 years, costing about £240 million in police investigations.
He also approached police authorities and the Home Office and claims an investigation of an assault can cost up to £3,000.
Mr Ahmed added: "Taxi drivers are willing to put some money towards it and the council can regulate it.
"People think we’re being greedy and that we’re the villains and that we want tax payer money spent on us.
"We’re just trying to do a job. We’re a public service just like any other by picking up the most dangerous people you can imagine and clearing them out of the town.
"Every week I get a call from someone who has been spat on or subjected to a racist comment. I feel humiliated, we are here to do a job and there is no protection from the police or council.
"I am worried that sooner or later someone will be seriously hurt or even killed."