A rise in the number of people not paying for taxis has inspired a campaign where taxi drivers can request payment in advance - if it will cost more than £10.
In a bid to reduce crime, Durham Constabulary has set up ‘Over 10 Pay There and Then’.
The scheme, which is currently being rolled out across most of the county, allows taxi drivers to request pre-payment when the fare involves certain risk factors, including intoxication, large groups and fares taken at night.
All Private hire firms have been invited to join the scheme, which is being supported by Durham County Council and Durham Agency Against Crime.
A number have already signed up so passengers can expect to start seeing the ‘Over 10 Pay There and Then’ badges appearing inside vehicles.
Drivers who have signed up can ask for the full payment in advance, although they will still run the meter so passengers can see they have been charged the correct amount.
Any difference in what was requested at the start of the journey will need to be paid by the passenger or returned by the driver once they have arrived at the requested destination.
DS David Bailey, who has been working alongside A/DI Gavin Wilkes to set-up the project, said: “This is a ground-breaking scheme, as previously, taxi drivers haven’t been able to ask for money in advance but now hopefully this will reduce the number of offences taking place.
“It is not intended that it will be used for someone off to do the weekly shop, it will mainly come into force during peak times of the night time economy.
“The drivers who have signed up to the scheme have welcomed this as these incidents waste a lot of time for everyone involved.
“These offences tend to happen when officers are at their busiest so it has meant that drivers were losing out on fares waiting for us to attend and deal, when their priority is collecting the money they are owed and to return to their business."
Police cadets will be approaching Hackney carriages in the coming weeks in order to get them on board.
Taxi drivers wishing to get involved should email firstname.lastname@example.org