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Lisson Grove cabbies ‘fear for their lives’ as gangs target drivers

PUBLISHED: 11:30 07 September 2018

Cab driver Tony Casey with his taxi in St John's Wood. Picture: Harry Taylor

Cab driver Tony Casey with his taxi in St John's Wood. Picture: Harry Taylor

Archant

A taxi driver fears somebody “could be killed” as drivers are being targeted by a gang from Lisson Grove.

Tony Casey, who has been driving a black cab in London since the 1980s, says the attacks are becoming commonplace. The road is one of the main routes into Marylebone and Paddington from St John’s Wood, along with the Edgware Road.

Gangs are targeting taxi drivers and their takings. This includes brazen attempts to stop the cars in the street, and even trying to get drivers to help disabled people get into the car, only to rob them when they step out of the cab. Tweets also say a driver was attacked with a fire extinguisher.

Tony said: “For the last few years, licensed cab drivers have been robbed while driving through Lisson Grove. It’s a joke.

“The police don’t seem to be interested or care about taxi drivers. Somebody, either a taxi driver or one of the gang members, could be killed.”

Alex Workman has been driving taxis for 11 years, and lives in Lisson Grove. He has seen the aftermath of a robbery.

“I picked up a group in Praed Street,” he said. “When they all piled in, they said: ‘Can you pick up my friend’s bag on the way?’”

When Alex’s cab pulled up, the youths picked up a bag from the street. He quickly realised they had a driver’s money bag.

“I told them to get out, and they dropped the bag on the way. When I checked, it was empty. A woman came up and said she’d seen a taxi driver being robbed.”

The 37-year-old says some taxi drivers are no longer carrying cash bags to minimise the risk of being robbed. He told us he fears for his safety.

Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the London Taxi Drivers Association and a former police officer, believes the issue would be easy to tackle.

“Myself, and drivers know who these people are. It would be an easy problem to tackle, but they would have to get a police presence in the area. I don’t have much confidence in the police full stop. I don’t blame individual officers or Sadiq Khan, but I put blame directly at the door of commissioner Cressida Dick.

“Like a lot of visible crime at the moment, you need visible officers. It’s not about taking DNA or doing stuff behind computer screens, it’s about getting boots on the ground.”

Scotland Yard pointed us to Churchill’s neighbourhood police team, who could not be reached for comment.

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