Friday, August 08, 2014

Taxi And Private Hire, On Street Enforcement, Not Fit For Purpose? Jim Thomas.

The danger of a passenger getting into a minicab outside a night venue, driven by a driver with no PHV license, no adequate insurance, is now at an all time high. 

There are an estimated 65,000 licensed private hire drivers, but there are also thousands of second hand minicabs out there every night being used by drivers with no TfL license, no background or police checks, many of these vehicles remain unregistered and are untraceable.

It is not a requirement to be a TfL licensed PHV driver, or a fit and proper person, to buy a second hand minicab complete with licence roundel.

On street enforcement and compliance continue to harass licensed Taxi drivers. 
Sexual predators are left unhindered to illegally plying for hire outside a bevy of night venues, searching for victims as the statistic for minicab related sexual attacks escalate an alarming rate.

             Spotted in the Bayswater area


Not in Central London, obviously!

Below is a report which emphasises the poor response from TfL's policing and on street enforcement.

A Bromley man has been banned from driving after posing as a minicab driver and inviting two women into his car.

Rajalingham Paheerathan, 35, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 16.

Paheerathan was spotted by Transport for London (TfL) officers in Uxbridge High Road last year having a conversation with a woman before letting her and friend into his vehicle.

The TfL officers soon established the journey was not pre-booked and Paheerathan was illegally touting for trade.

He pleaded guilty to plying for hire and having no operator licence and was ordered to pay £370 in fines and court costs, and was also disqualified from the road for three months.

Director of Enforcement and On Street Operations at TfL Steve Burton said: “This demonstrates that we take illegal touting and other illegal private hire activities extremely seriously.

“An unbooked minicab is just a stranger’s car and these drivers pose a real threat to public safety.”

The case comes as TfL continues to crackdown on “bogus and unsafe” drivers in London, with Paheerathan one of 25 successful prosecutions in the last 12 months.


Editorial Comment.
"Director of Enforcement and On Street Operations at TfL Steve Burton said: “This demonstrates that we take illegal touting and other illegal private hire activities extremely seriously."

Amazed that TPH compliance had to go all the way to Uxbridge High Street, to find one of the 25 successful prosecutions, to bolster the figures after complaints they are not doing their job.

You only have to have a stroll along Coventry Street and Wardour Street Steve and you could double your annual tout prosecutions in an evening!

We would also question these figures given by the New Shopper as the figures we obtained show 24 successful prosecutions in 36 months.

Even so, if we got it wrong and the new shopper is right 25 successful prosecutions in 12 months is still shocking. 

With an estimated 10,000 licensed minicab vehicles being driven by drivers unaffiliated to a PH operator, we should be seeing at least 24 a week. 

Recent statistics show an alarming rise in minicab related sexual assaults including rapes. The fact that anyone can purchase a fully licensed minicab complete with TfL roundel, with no requirement to be a licensed driver, or even a fit and proper person, is making it extremely easy for sexual predators to find fresh victims. 

As we've seen this week, the streets of Central London are a nightly free for all with hardly any chance of being caught by cab enforcement or police. The odds of being caught for touting in any 12 month period (given these latest figures) are 24/65,000. Absolutely no deterrent at all.

Perhaps the trouble lies with the licensing administrators lack of enthusiasm to do the job properly, tackling the wrong targets and harassing licensed Taxis for petty administrative failures, while serious criminals escape detection through pisspoor in street enforcement.

This is a problem that has been enshrined in TfL on street enforcement for many years. Perhaps it's time for new hands on the tiller as the old ones don't seem to be steering in the right direction. 

The old saying the buck stops here comes to mind Steve.


Gone for a Burton said...

24 prosecutions in 12months!!!

Even if that's true, that cannot by any means be called Enforcement, the scale of the danger to the public is enormous.

TfL's first priority is protecting their revenue, public safety is a very poor second here.

As ever follow the money.

BlackRat said...

I would imagine it comes down to funding and i'm not sure that the powers in charge are that fussed or so it seems. That programme recently aired showed the lack of enforcement and even the lady reporter said she kind of felt sorry for the touts that had been caught.

These days it's a free for all and we live in a lawless society as far as bylaws and low level crime (touting) occurs, even though it can end up in rape & assault.

We need a mayor who will enforce zero tolerance, unfortunately i cant see that happening.

Anonymous said...

I wonder where this estimated 10,000 dodgy mini cab driver figure has been plucked out from.
This site was first moaning that tfl had only 1 prosecution. now its 25 and still moaning.
also moaning that the team went to Uxbridge to catch one, i didn't realise central London crimes were more important than the suburbs.

Anonymous said...

Put the facts and figures on receipt pads and hand them out to the public,TfL and Bad Boy Boris will be most unpleased!!!

Editorial said...

Anon 3:00pm

The 1 prosicution you refer to, the one we have spoken in detail about on this site is for the offence of illegally plying for hire, a reportable offence.

The 24 successful prosecutions talked about in this specific post are for Touting, an arrestable criminal offence.

The 10,000 minicab drivers currently unaffiliated to any PH operator is an official estimate which came from LT&PH.

Editorial said...

Anon 3:54 pm

Although at first we thought this to be a great idea, we have been asked not to produce and distribute free receipt pads as there are currently some who make their living, selling receipt pads to drivers at major ranks.

We have been told that if we proceeded, it would be seen as a similar attack on people's livelihood as Uber's attack on the cab trade.

So we shelved the idea for now.

Perhaps interested drivers could approach the current suppliers of pads and ask them to put these details on their pads in the near future.

Anonymous said...

anon 4.10

the 25 prosecutions all relate to tph prosecutions which all include plying for hire. Every tph prosecution is determined by plying for hire as tph do not prosecute for touting as it's a criminal arrestable offence.
The police do not prosecute for plying for hire and never have done.

The solution is simple you guys need to be out in force at night at the hot spots and take away all the jobs rather than picking and choosing fares.
where there is demand and the black cabs are not filling that demand someone else will. its not physically possible for every tout to be stopped as you will all know resources ain't there.
If you all blitz the streets then you will solve the issues but as a organisation you yourself are not United. at the end of the day cherry picking needs to stop and then things may change.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:54am
Sorry your wrong
TPH prosecute no one,
It's the police/ and or met cab enforcement's warranted officers that arrest and prosecute
TPH compliance can only report
TPH have only ever had 1 successful case for illegally plying for hire and we had to wait 14 years for that. It was in all the trad papers.

The sound bite that drivers cherry pick or there are not enough drivers on nights is just not the case and is part of the same myth that taxis don't go south of the river, much used by minicab drivers and taxi haters.

May of been the case many years ago, but not now.

People like you always know some one who couldn't get a cab at 3 am on a Sunday morning, trouble is when you check out these stories, it always turns out that these people would be more suited in an ambulance or a police car than a Taxi.

If you can't get a taxi in London at night, then you should truly look to yourself.

It's the height of our season and last night, there were yellow lights sell over the place.

As for uniting, there are two individuals who stop this happening because put simply, it would dilute their power. Won't happen until these two are replaced.

Trade may wake up soon but it could be too late to save itself.

Seems to me you need to get better informed.

Anonymous said...

ur not well informed
tph compliance report drivers for prosecution then the legal team prosecute. The met police report people for the cps to prosecute. I don't know why this blog does not post the facts about tph prosecutions as they have had in excess of 20 plying for hire prosecutions in the last 12 months which is a fact. If you are in doubt then you can ask tph yourself .

and if you drive along Coventry St etc on a busy night at club closing time then it will be a miracle to see a black cab. drive to Liverpool St rank after 1 on a Saturday and the rank is empty but all the cherry pickers are parked round the corner. go to Shoreditch high St and people are forced to flag down touts as there no black cabs or they won't pick up. If you guys won't clear the streets some one else will. supply and demand

Editorial said...

Anon 11:55am
Please don't confuse posts from anonymous sources like yourself as facts.

This blog makes every effort to acquire the facts.
Our FOI requests go unanswered
Our emails are given the run around
Requests sent to General Manager Hellen Chapman have been unanswered.
So we try to get as close to the truth as possible from press releases and trade publications.

We know from the past that TPH only had one prosecution for illegal plying for hire up until the beginning of this year ( it was in all the trade press) That's one case in 13 years.

If, as you claim anonymously there have been over 20 cases by TFL of IPH in the last 12 months, I bow to you superior knowledge, but that now means that we have only had 3/4 case of touting!

This now bolsters up the statistics we've been given that TfL have only had 26 convictions for touting in the last 36 months!

The whole matter gets worse by the hour!

As for your other comment, some areas are obviously served better than others, historically this has always been the case but you have to look at the way Taxi arrangements have been over looked. Until better facilities are made for better access, better ranking, more marshalled ranks, this will always be the case.

Liverpool street station is a prime example.
Drivers have to sit in heavy traffic (with light off to get there) then are faced with having to negotiate extremely tight U-turn to access a rank surround by minicab touts that should be moved on by the CoL police.

The no entry in the middle is a ridiculous piece of planning and it should be open to Taxis leaving the rank. This would also ease traffic leaving the station

Same with Victoria where we are told we can't use the station forecourt rank and passengers are shepherded by station staff out into Buck Palace road to be picked off by minicab touts.

Taxi drivers who currently go to the old rank to give a service are constantly threatened by TfLTPH on Twitter.

Ever tried to enter Coventry Street on on Saturday night, the touts double parked, parked on pavement, rickshaws filling the ranks when you get there. Police, cab enforcement and compliance, nowhere to be seen. It's a mess. Again with recent road works a clear exit of the area is restricted.

It's not a perfect situation, but I guarantee no matter how much you expanded the Central London fleet, no matter how many drivers you encourage onto night work, without the work put in by the councils, police forces and TPH compliance, nothing will change in these few black spot areas.