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EDITIONS
 Monday, 16 December, 2002, 12:30 GMT
Cab drivers give police crime steers
Taxi
Drivers are being seen as a valuable resource
Taxi drivers are using their observational skills to help police track down missing people and solve crime in the south Wales Valleys.

Armed with mobile phones, drivers in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be given descriptions of people who have vanished, especially if they are children or elderly.

This scheme is like Neighbourhood Watch on Wheels

Dianne Eliot, Taxi Operator Association

They will then be able to pass back information about things they have seen by ringing 24-hour contact points.

Drivers will also be notified details of serious incidents such as burglaries or assaults in the area.

Dianne Eliot, secretary of Rhondda Cynon Taf Taxi Operator Association said: "This scheme is like Neighbourhood Watch on Wheels.

"For example, if we are given information about a missing person with a description our drivers can keep an eye out for that person.

"If they see them, the driver can phone a special line which goes straight to the police.

"We see so much everyday but unless we know what we are looking for, it isn't much use.

Taxi driver Diane Eliot
Diane Eliot said the scheme will help locate missing people

"At least with this new system the drivers are know what to look out for," she said.

About 60 drivers have volunteered for the scheme, but more are expected to sign up during the next few months.

"We have found that very often when we report something like a minor car accident, we are stuck in a telephone queue to the police for ages," said Ms Eliot.

"At least with this, we have a direct line and can notify the police straight away.

"When people go missing the first 20 minutes are crucial, and if our taxi drivers know who to look out for hopefully we will be able to help find that person before anything happens to them," she added.

Taxi drivers acting as the eyes and ears of the police will be invaluable

Inspector John James

Inspector John James, the community safety officer for the region, said information from the drivers could be invaluable.

"At any one time during the day and into the early hours of the morning, there are approximately 60 vehicles on the roads belonging to the association," he said.

"This is a very large resource that was felt could be used to assist in the sightings of vehicles and persons involved in serious incidents or even vulnerable missing persons."

Mr James said that recent tragic events in other parts of the country showed the importance of getting information - particularly about missing children - out to as many people as soon as possible.

"Taxi drivers acting as the eyes and ears of the police will be invaluable in such cases," he added.


More from south east Wales
See also:

02 Dec 02 | Wales
30 Nov 02 | Wales
04 Nov 02 | England
05 Nov 02 | England
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