The NSW Taxi Industry places the highest priority on the safety and security of drivers and passengers.
In the early 1990s, the NSW Taxi Council and the NSW Government held an inquiry into security measures available in taxis around the world. Called the Keatsdale Inquiry, the proactive investigation and recommendations have assisted NSW in not reaching the same levels of violence against drivers experienced elsewhere. Key outcomes of the inquiry included:
- Introducing safety training for drivers to provide them with the skills to ‘talk down’ difficult situations. This was one of the first programs of its type in the world, and continues to evolve.
- In-vehicle security initiatives including emergency alarms incorporating audio recording and Global Positioning (GPS) technology allow networks to monitor the location of every vehicle. GPS was a multi-million dollar investment by networks to protect drivers and passengers, and the technology was introduced in NSW more than a decade before it was rolled out in NYC. Industry performance continues to be optimized by the use of GPS technology.
- Reducing the amount of cash in vehicles. A number of taxi networks invested in research and development and the first non-cash payments scheme for taxis was introduced - this was a world first.
- Installing perspex screens around drivers until security camera technology was further advanced, whereupon security cameras became compulsory in all NSW taxis. Additional cameras both internally and externally were introduced in 2010 and the technology which allows for better quality and higher quantity of images is now relied upon by Police and law enforcement agencies.
These measures were implemented by the NSW taxi industry with no funding from government, as the taxi industry is privately funded public transport.
Taxi drivers were recognised as critical workers under 2002 legislation from the NSW Parliament which automatically increases the sentence of anyone convicted of a criminal offence against an on-duty taxi driver.
The NSW Taxi Council continues to work with the NSW Government on a number of initiatives such as secure ranks, the ID/Voucher scheme for nearly 400 Sydney pubs, and trials of prepaid fares in areas of high crime such as Kings Cross and the Central Coast.
Staying ahead of crime requires effort and investment by the networks and owners/operators. It is therefore understandable that the industry is concerned that unauthorised booking apps are by-passing security technology, limiting a network’s ability to accurately monitor every booking, and reducing the information which can be provided to Police or to investigate a customer complaint.
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