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January 17, 2003
Safety devices in taxicabs help prevent crimes
  
Toronto City Council's Licensing Sub-committee heard reports yesterday on the
success of taxi safety initiatives. Police statistics for the year 2001
indicate that there is an overall decline in offences committed against taxicab
drivers in Toronto. The following statistics represent comparisons from the
year 2000 to 2001.

- all assaults: 1.5 per cent decrease
- thefts: 6 per cent decrease
- all robberies: 50 per cent decrease
- armed robberies: 66 per cent decrease
- unarmed robberies: 23 per cent decrease
- vehicle jacking: 80 per cent decrease
- frauds: 47 per cent decrease
- mischief: 24 per cent increase
- overall crimes against taxicab drivers: 18 per cent decrease

"These statistics reflect the success of the taxi safety program. Safety
devices have helped to significantly reduce criminal acts against taxicab
drivers," said Councillor Howard Moscoe, Chair of the Licensing Sub-committee.

In June 2000, City Council adopted amendments to bylaw 574-2000 that provided
for the installation of safety devices in all licensed taxicabs. All taxicabs
in the City of Toronto are now equipped with an emergency lighting system to
signal that drivers need police assistance. Anyone who sees a taxicab's
emergency lights flashing should call 911. All taxis also have either a
security camera or an automatic vehicle location/global positioning system
(AVL/GPS).

In several cases, information from the safety devices has been used in criminal
investigations. In a number of isolated and related cases, police have been
able to use images downloaded from the cameras to help investigate crimes that
did not occur in the taxicab.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who was the Chair of the City's Taxi Reform
Committee, said he is pleased that "the City's Municipal Licensing and
Standards Division staff will continue to meet with industry representatives
and with Police Services to address safety concerns of taxicab drivers."


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