A minicab company in the town at the centre of one of Britain’s biggest grooming scandals is sending white drivers on request.
The firm has received requests in Heywood, Rochdale, after two local drivers were jailed for their part in the rape and trafficking of young white girls.
Stephen Campbell, manager of Car 2000, said the number of people asking for a white driver shot up after the 2012 grooming case.
After a dip, it has nudged up again in the wake of fears about Britons who sympathise with terror group Islamic State (IS).
Mr Campbell said: “We don’t promote anything like this, but if you ring up and say ‘can I have a white driver?’ we will provide one. We are offering a service.
“Initially, back in 2012, the number of people asking for white drivers went up, then it went back down. It has gone up again a bit since this coverage of IS. I think people are being programmed by what they watch on the news.
“They ask for ‘local’ drivers and by that they mean white. The ridiculous thing is all my drivers are local - they were all born here.
“All taxi drivers get abuse, but Asian drivers put up with more abuse than anyone else.”
The move comes amid rising tensions in Rochdale following revelations of gang rapes, grooming and trafficking of white girls at the hands of mainly Asian gangs.
Nine men from Pakistan and Afghanistan were jailed for a total of 77 years in May 2012 for plying young, vulnerable girls with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” for sex.
A serious case review highlighted a catalogue of “shocking” failures and found that social workers and police adopted a “colour blind” approach that was “potentially dangerous”.
Mr Campbell’s firm, Car 2000, took over Eagle Taxis, a firm which formerly employed two drivers at the heart of the scandal, in May 2011.
But he said he only discovered that two former employees were part of grooming ring when they were on the news for being in court the following year.
He said at least two other taxi firms in the borough of Rochdale only employed white drivers, but 60% of the cabbies on his books were Asian.
“If I had my way I would dissuade people from ordering a white taxi driver,” Mr Campbell said. “However, sometimes I struggle to find the words to change peoples’ minds. It depends on the way they were brought up.
“We are offering a service. It is like going into a shop and saying ‘can I have a Coca-Cola?’ and the person saying you have to have a Pepsi.”
He added: “I would very much like to be told it is illegal (to offer white drivers) and therefore I’ll stop doing it. But I will lose customers who will go to firms that only employ white drivers.”