Sunderland taxi driver hailed by police for helping to protect teenage girls

A Sunderland taxi driver who called police after fearing for the safety of two teenage girls has been praised by officers.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 11:04 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 1:50 pm

Anthony Robson, 34, was working a shift with Station Taxis when he picked up two teenage girls at around 3am.

The girls, who were 15 and 16, had asked to be taken to a hotel in the city centre but the driver grew suspicious after a 34-year-old man came out of the hotel and paid the fare.

He then proceeded to lead them into the premises.

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(From left) Station Taxis managing director Trevor Hines, driver Anthony Robson, Sergeant Maria Ord and Chief Supt Sarah Pitt.

Concerned for the girls’ welfare, Anthony – who along with his colleagues receive regular vulnerability training by officers – rang 999 and passed on the information to police.

The training developed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness’s office helps spot signs of potentially vulnerable people in the night-time environment.

Officers attended the hotel and the two girls were taken home to their parents after hotel staff also stepped in when sensing something was not right.

And now taxi driver Anthony has been recognised for his actions by Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt and Sergeant Maria Ord, who presented him with a commendation at Station Taxi’s headquarters in Southwick.

Station Taxi driver Anthony Robson.

Ch Supt Pitt said: “This could easily have resulted in a different outcome and Anthony could have easily overlooked what he had seen.

“But as a result of the vulnerability training that we deliver to a range of partners including taxi drivers, hoteliers and door staff in the city centre, he thought something was not quite right and contacted police.

“That enabled officers to attend the hotel and subsequently safeguard the two teenage girls. They were taken home and offered advice, while we also spoke with their parents.

“Anthony should be very proud of his actions and we thought it was important to showcase our gratitude on behalf of the force by presenting him with a Commander’s Compliment.”

Commendations will also be given to the hotel staff who stepped in and prevented the girls from going upstairs and waited with them until officers attended.

Two men, aged 34 and 20, were spoken to by police following the incident, which happened on August 24.

They were offered appropriate advice and officers were satisfied that no criminal offences had taken place.

Sgt Ord added: “Every month, we deliver vulnerability training for taxi drivers and other city centre partners to educate them on how best to identify and safeguard people who may be vulnerable for a wide range of reasons, and who could therefore be more likely to be a victim of crime.”

Trevor Hines, managing director of Station Taxis, said: “Our priority is the safety of our passengers and drivers, which is why this training is essential to ensure our drivers have the tools and knowledge to identify and report any concerns.

"We are proud to have drivers like Anthony, who has potentially prevented something bad from happening with his actions.”