WORTHING is one of the first places in the country to benefit from a new scheme to help keep taxi passengers safe.
The Am I safe? web-based application has been designed so passengers using a taxi or private hire vehicle can check to make sure it is registered before they get in. It also notifies family or friends of the passenger’s location at the time.
The scheme was created by Anthony Price-Thomson, who came up with the idea after his friend was sexually assaulted by a cabbie.
He said: “It prevents a problem before it exists – as being traceable makes people accountable.
“I had a female friend who was sexually assaulted by an unlicensed vehicle driver about five years ago.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to let anyone know if a vehicle was licensed or not.”
Worthing is one of 10 places which has agreed to be involved in the project.
Jacqui Marsh, chairman of Worthing Borough Council’s licensing committee, said: “I am pleased to see this scheme implemented in Worthing.
“Although we have a taxi trade in the town of a high standard, which takes customer safety very seriously in the main, this innovation will provide additional peace of mind for any member of the public at all concerned about their security.”
Councillor Tom Wye, cabinet member for health and well-being, added: “It is a win, win situation.
“Worthing is generally a safe place to live and work, but I commend any initiative, such as this, that helps people feel safer.
“It just gives that added bit of protection. People should use this service if they have any doubts at all about the taxi they are getting in to.”
The free app uses the local authority licensing register to check if a vehicle is legitimate.
All the passenger needs to do is enter the registration of the vehicle and the app will say whether the vehicle is licensed, the type of licence it holds, the make and model of the vehicle and where the taxi is allowed to operate.
At the same time, the licensed driver will get an email with the passenger’s username, so they know the journey is traceable. Am I Safe? is available on smartphones. To access the service, visit www.amisafe.co.uk