I was totally dismayed to read the article on Taxileaks concerning the driver who was 'detained' in Victoria by a 'Compliance Officer' and subsequently told in writing that he had committed the offence of 'Plying for Hire'!
The letter to the driver from TfL is completely illogical. Firstly, there is no such offence. Secondly, he has been found guilty of committing the non-existent offence without an opportunity to provide his version of events. He has been warned about any 'repetiton' of the offence so therefore, in their opinion, an offence was committed. To add insult to injury this 'offence' has been recorded on his file.
I find this totally unacceptable and I am pleased to see that the driver concerned is going to take this issue further. TfL are again making the rules up as they go along and are setting themselves up as Judge, Jury and Executioner. This goes against all principles of natural justice where anyone is innocent of any offence until proven guilty.
I had a similar, though less serious, incident with TfL recently. We operate a fleet of 100 plus licensed taxis and from time to time we are contacted by TfL to nominate the driver of a certain vehicle on a specified date, usually as a result of TfL receiving a complaint from a member of the public. TfL then take up the matter with the driver concerned and rightly so.
I received a letter addressed to me personally concerning a complaint about the driving of one of our licensed taxis. The letter said that, since I am shown as the licensee of the vehicle (which I am for all of our vehicles) then TfL 'ASSUME' that I was the driver concerned. I was warned as to my future conduct but no record was placed on my file (I am a licensed taxi driver). Naturally I wrote back to TfL saying that they had no right whatsoever to 'assume' that I am the driver concerned and this applies to any licensed taxi. I advised that their proper course of action was to contact the licensee to asertain the identity of the driver first.
My letter was sent to Palestra recorded delivery so that I could confirm that it had been received. I believe that Royal Mail did in fact deliver the letter but, funnily enough, it was not signed for so TfL can deny ever having received it and remain unaccountable for their actions. Needless to say I have never received a response. I suspect that this is standard practice at TfL with recorded delivery although obviously I have no proof.
I agree with your recommendation that all licensed taxi drivers should join a Trade Organisation that provides legal cover. In the past this was done to protect drivers from all sorts of 'incidents' that could take place out on the road but now it is essential to protect drivers from persecution by their own licensing authority! What a sorry state of affairs.
Name and address withheld