Safer Travel at Night: Over 1,300 drivers arrested last year as part of crackdown on unbooked ‘minicabs’
Latest weekend operation brings in 39 arrests
Cab-related sexual offences fall by 20 per cent year on year
The Mayor of London’s war against unlicensed ‘minicabs’ has resulted in 1,300 arrests over the last twelve months in a crackdown on touting and other cab-related offences during 2010/11.
The latest figures show the success of the ongoing Safer Travel at Night (STaN) initiative, a partnership between the Mayor, Transport for London (TfL), Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP), who are working together to make travelling in London safer at night.
STaN aims to reduce the number of cab-related sexual offences by raising awareness of the dangers of using unbooked ‘minicabs’, also known as touts and illegal cabs, and by using targeted police and enforcement activity to identify, disrupt and deter illegal cab activity.
Both the MPS Safer Transport Command, CoLP and TfL officers carry out regular enforcement activity across London including high-visibility patrols, stop/checks on vehicles, intelligence-led operations and engaging with the public.
During the latest three-night-operation, that took place last weekend in central London, the West End and parts of Camden, there were 39 people arrested for touting and other cab-related offences. Officers used undercover tactics and also conducted roadside vehicle and licence compliance checks on all ‘minicabs’ within the operation area.
Despite significant progress over recent years unbooked ‘minicabs’ remain a high priority for the Mayor, TfL and the police as they are a danger to the public, especially as they operate around the Capital’s night life. These ‘cabs’ are unregulated and uninsured to carry passengers and in some cases the drivers are linked to more serious crimes including rape and sexual assault, robbery and drugs. Last year saw the number of cab-related sexual offences fall by 20 per cent to 111 but there is more work to be done.
These ‘cabs’ also present a threat to licensed and law-abiding taxi and private hire drivers as they intercept customers and represent unfair – and unsustainable – competition.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The people who live in and visit this great city need to know that it is safe to get around. It is in this context that we must confront the Russian roulette that is presented by illegal minicabs. Taxi touts are a menace to Londoners and tourists and the number of arrests made clearly vindicates our decision to double the size of TfL’s excellent cab enforcement team.”
Steve Burton, Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing at TfL, said: “These results reflect the hard work by officers from both the Police and TfL to tackle touting, cab-related sexual offences and other illegal cab activity in the Capital. Although this welcome news, we are not complacent, and we will continue our efforts to further reduce these crime and ensure that the public can travel safely at night in the Capital.”
Chief Superintendent Joe Royle, Safer Transport Command, said: “These arrests show our commitment to ensuring Londoners travel safely at night. We will continue to carry out operations as part of our ongoing drive to tackle illegal cabs and taxi touts operating in the Capital.”
Key tips on using minicabs:
Never approach a minicab on the street or accept a fare, they are acting illegally, even if they are licensed by TfL
Only black cabs can pick passengers up on the street without a booking
When travelling by minicab always book it with a licensed operator, when it is arrives check it’s for you by getting the driver to confirm your booking details and always sit in the back
To get three local cab numbers text ‘CAB’ to 60835**
Visit www.tfl.gov.uk/cabwise for more information.
** Users of 3 and overseas networks must enter different information. See www.tfl.gov.uk/cabwise for details and charges.