Abdul Salimi receiving his training certificate from Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.
Taxi drivers who work late-night weekend shifts often face challenging situations, when they have to deal with intoxicated and aggressive passengers.
News reports show what appears to be an increasing trend in violence towards taxi drivers. Anecdotal reports from local drivers reinforce this message. Assaults and threats that go unreported are relatively commonplace.
Many of the drivers who are attacked are immigrants, who make up a large proportion of taxi drivers working at night. This is often because they are full time students or are working two jobs to support their families.
It was decided by the Crime Prevention Coordinating Committee, a body of representatives from the Safer Christchurch Interagency Group, to carry out a pilot study in which a target group of taxi drivers could be provided with simple, practical tools to assist them to keep safe while working; and to give them the knowledge and confidence to call for emergency assistance when needed.
A pilot study with Afghani taxi drivers was carried out in April 2010. Feedback was collected and reviewed and as a result, the Crime Prevention Coordinating Committee is now looking to make the training available to other multicultural drivers.
Who organises the training?
The Crime Prevention Coordinating Committee (a body of representatives of organisations working in Christchurch in the broad area of crime prevention; and reporting to the Safer Christchurch Interagency Group) formed a working party in November 2009 to develop a safety training program, targeted at migrant taxi drivers in Christchurch.
The initiative is a partnership between member organisations of the Committee (Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Police); the Migrant and Refugee Centre / PEETO; the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Office of Ethnic Affairs.
Pilot study – April 2010
The pilot study took place over three successive Mondays (12, 19 and 26 April 2010) from 6 to 9pm, at the Christchurch Central Police Station.
As the largest immigrant group working in the taxi industry in Christchurch, Afghani taxi drivers were the first to receive the safety training.
Thirty three Afghani taxi drivers attended over the three nights, which equates to over half the number of Afghani drivers in the city. The sessions were interactive and those who attended were fully engaged in the programme.
An interpreter was provided to ensure that everyone who attended was able to participate fully in the training. Detailed course notes were also provided to participants.
Topics covered in the training included:
- Common New Zealand kiwi greetings and social customs
- How to understand English slang
- How to use the Language Line
- How to deal with drunk and aggressive people safely
- How to communicate with the Police, including a visit to the Police Central Communications Centre
- Understanding relevant law
Feedback on the training
All attendees were asked to leave their feedback upon completion of the training.
The results showed:
- The number of taxi drivers who felt confident that they understood what passengers were saying to them, increased from 94% to 100%
- The number of taxi drivers who thought their level of spoken English helps passengers feel comfortable with them, increased from 44% to 61%.
- The number of taxi drivers who felt confident in keeping themselves safe at night, increased from 28% to 44%
- The number of taxi drivers who felt confident managing a drunk or angry person safely, increased from 39% to 44%
- The number of taxi drivers who felt they knew what information to give the police in an emergency, increased from 83% to 100%
- The number of taxi drivers feeling comfortable about contacting the police if they needed to, increased from 67% to 100%
- The number of taxi drivers who felt confident in their knowledge of the laws affecting their work, increased from 94% to 100%.
Reasons given for attending the training:
- To help taxi drivers learn about safety
- To allow taxi drivers to provide a better service
- To provide greater job satisfaction
- To allow taxi drivers to feel safer at work
- To provide a greater understanding of keeping safe, in and out of work
Reasons given for why the training was useful
- It reinforced the importance of safety for taxi drivers
- It provided lots of useful and relevant information
- The training informed drivers how to keep safe and how to deal with intoxicated passengers
- It was very helpful in providing essential information
- It gave drivers the chance to learn new skills and expand on current skills
The Crime Prevention Coordinating Committee is now planning to host similar training sessions for other interested migrant groups of taxi drivers over the next few months.
If you are interesting in finding out more, contact Sue Ramsay, Crime Prevention Project Facilitator on (03) 941 5067 .