Taxis tapped in booze curb

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Taxi drivers will no longer be able to convey passengers to liquor-restricted premises if they have alcohol in their possession under a new initiative led by the South Hedland Police Station.

Beginning last week, the initiative is in collaboration with the Department of Transport and the taxi industry and aims to assist with community safety and minimise alcohol harm in and around the Pilbara.

South Hedland acting Senior Sergeant Andrew Ramsden said there was no time frame on the initiative, however, it will be reviewed after five weeks. “This is not a targeted thing for using the taxi drivers, we are trying to take away the anger that usually occurs when drivers in their own right refuse services,” he said.

“So we’re there to support them and the liquor-restricted premises that we’re changing our focus on, that’s to give support to the owners because liquor-restricted premises, in the majority, are a voluntary thing.

“Sometimes they don’t feel they’re empowered enough to ask people to leave so we’re going in behind them to give the support to those home owners who choose to have a premise free of liquor.”

Sen. Sgt Ramsden said drivers would be supplied a list of liquor-restricted premises in a monthly meeting with the taxi industry and key stakeholders.

However, not all members in the taxi industry are pleased with the implementation of the initiative.

One driver, who declined to be named because of fear of being targeted by violent addicts, said the initiative would bring violence to an already risk-prone industry.

“Not all taxi drivers will honour it simply because of the money aspect of it but, more importantly, what the police and general public don’t understand is that this will likely be the cause of more abuse and potentially lead to physical assault on drivers when they try and explain that they can’t drive them to a certain place,” they said.

“I can appreciate the help they are trying to provide to these people but the problem is taxi drivers are the ones that have to convey that message to them and who is there to protect the driver if it goes south?”

The action follows a spate of alcohol-related violence and liquor restrictions imposed last month.

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