The one driver who suffered no attack or abuse had only been in the trade for 6 months. All 20 drivers, who reported attacks, had been verbally abused at one time or another. 12 of these drivers had been physically assaulted, 4 required further treatment and had to take time off work. 8 of the drivers reported being assaulted on more than one occasion; one driver had been assaulted 3 time in the last two years. Out of these drivers who had been victims of multiple attacks all were of Asian origin.
All the drivers stated that all the perpetrators were young white men and the attacks took place between the hours of 7pm and 4am, usually on Friday or Saturday night. All respondents who suffered verbal or physical attacks believed that alcohol was a contributing factor. All the Asian drivers believed that their attacks were racially motivated. When asked whether they reported the attacks to the police, except in the most violent attacks in which money was taken, the respondents said that they didn’t bother, citing the time taken to report the crime and the police officers indifference to the less serious assaults.
The drivers state that loss of money as more important than catching the attacker. All the drivers seemed ambivalent to all, except the most serious, attacks. They saw the attacks, both verbal and physical, as an occupational hazard that was going to happen at one time or another. When asked about measures that could be done to prevent the attacks, various measures were put forward. The most popular, which some drivers had already installed, where in-car CCTV and Grilles that separated the driver from the passengers.
Where these measures had been installed drivers reported that the incidence of physical attacks had dropped but they still suffered verbal abuse. These findings were backed up by our content analysis of the local paper 20 physical attacks were reported in the local press over a two year period. All the attacks had Asian victims and their attackers were all reported as being young white youths. Only the most serious assaults, the ones reported to the police, seemed to be reported in the papers.
In two years only two attackers were brought to court and convicted, supporting the view of the drivers that it is ‘a waste of time’ reporting incidents to the police. The analysis of the trade magazine see the pattern of attacks repeated all over the UK especially in urban areas. 50 serious assaults in the last 12 month, including 2 murders. The majority of these attacks are carried out on Asian drivers by mainly white perpratrators. In conclusion it seems that drivers who enter the private hire taxi trade, are aware of the risks that they face and are prepared to accept them.
In answer to the question ‘Are these attacks racist? ” It could be that because the majority of Private hire drivers are of Asian descent and they tend to work mostly in the evening then they are more likely to be victims. Because a racist crime is defined so by the victim, nearly all the attacks on Asian drivers are being reported as being racist. Deep-seated prejudice seems to turn into overt discrimination when alcohol is involved and the perpetrators of these attacks believe they can get away with it.
Bryman, A. (2001) Social Research Methods, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cashmore, E. E. (1996) Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations, London: Routledge. Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (2003) http://www. oldham. gov. uk Oldham Evening Chronicle (Mar 2001 – Mar 2003) Pawson,R. (1995) ‘Methods of Content/ Document/ Media Analysis’, in Haralambos, M. (Eds) (1995) Developments in Sociology, Vol 11, Ormskirk: Causeway Press.