TAXI drivers have teamed up with CCTV operators and police for a new scheme to crack down on anti-social and violent behaviour in Weymouth.

A pilot Taxi Watch initiative has proved so successful over the past few weeks that it looks set to become a permanent feature in the resort.

Six cabs have been fitted with direct radio links to the closed circuit television (CCTV) office, where staff can monitor incidents and directly alert town centre police officers.

PC Tom Steadman and PC Richard Shirley, of the town centre team are behind the six-month pilot scheme, which works in a similar way to Pub Watch and Shop Watch.

They also have hand-held radios which give them immediate communication with the taxi drivers and vice versa.

So far the scheme has targeted incidents of anti-social behaviour, drunken violence and reported two unconscious people in the street and a suspected man with a knife on the seafront.

PC Shirley said: “It’s giving us the heads-up to potential problems so we can be there and to prevent anything happening.

“It’s also providing witnesses to things that have happened.

“Hopefully, the scheme will let people know ‘You are being watched in the town and if you’re going to misbehave you’ll get caught.’ “We’ve got cameras, we’ve got taxi drivers and regular patrols by the night-time squad, who provide a high-visibility presence in the town centre every weekend.”

PC Shirley said they hoped to make Taxi Watch a permanent feature in the town centre following the trial period.

He added: “It’s obviously proving a valuable tool in our fight against crime.

“I would hope if it works out other police in Dorset will take it on. We’re always looking to have links with different partners and in the night-time economy, taxi drivers are ideal links because they see things we don’t.”

Nigel Richardson, chairman of the Weymouth and Portland Hackney Carriage Association, said six taxis had a direct radio link to the CCTV office and the police.

He said: “If we see any violence or problems around the taxi ranks, we can ask them to monitor it and request police attendance.

“It’s being fully supported by PC Steadman and PC Shirley.

“They’ve both got handheld radios that link to the taxis so when they’re out and about at weekends they can hear what we’re reporting before it’s put out on the police radio.”

He added: “Everyone’s happy, it’s very similar to the Shop Watch and Pub Watch schemes and if this works it’s going to be great.

“It’s amazing how good the cameras are on the seafront and the detail they pick up.

“The scheme’s good because it gives added protection to the taxi team and helps to make the town a safer place for everybody else.

“The scheme has been self-funded with no cost to the police.

“Dorset Communications and Taxi Meters have supplied the radio equipment and installation free of charge to get the scheme operational.

“We’re not aware of any other schemes in the country with direct access to the CCTV and police via radio link.

“We hope it can be rolled out elsewhere.”