We are now three months into Operation Neon and the TfL has just released its compliance statistics.
As of 24th August this year,
a) 3,021 licensed minicabs openly plying for hire have been "advised" to move on (no action taken).
b) 324 will receive a letter "advising them, in future, not to park on a Taxi rank.
c) 1,829 PH drivers will receive a letter "advising them to always wear their photo ID cards.
AND THATS IT?
Would you see this as value for money?
This particular operation hasn't seen one conviction for touting!
Not one conviction for illegally plying for hire !
On the other hand, The Westminster Marshals team issued 758 parking tickets.....well done the Westminster Marshals.
Three months into Operation Neon and still the appointed Taxi ranks in Mayfair are awash with park private hire vehicles, night after night.
Some even forming illegal rolling ranks, obstructing working Taxis from accessing the rank space.
And yet, compliance teams regularly turn up and report licensed Taxis for over ranking or forming unauthorised ranks.
One compliance officer who told me I should not be over ranking but circulating, turned to her colleague and said,
"These bloody cabbies want it all their own way".
Operation Neon (we were informed by Steve Burton) was initially set up to deter illegally plying for hire and touting, but it would appear, by their actions, compliance teams are now actively facilitating the touts.
In March of this year, Taxi Leaks posted the news that TfL employee John Strutton, had taken over compliance as Interim Head.
We said at that time, it appeared John had all the necessary experience to do the job, if only he would be allowed to do so.But it appears John's interim job didn't transform into a full time posting.
We have now been informed (by the new online TfL Taxi and Private hire magazine) that ex Chief Superintendent Matt Bell MBE, has taken over as head of Compliance.
Chief Superintendent Matt Bell joined the Met in 1985 as a PC in Southwark before joining Woolwich with a promotion. Following spells at Peckham and Bromley, Matt became borough commander for Barking & Dagenham and later Lambeth, before becoming the OCU Commander of the new Roads and Transport Policing Command.
He was awarded an MBE in 2012 for Services to Policing.
After joining TfL as head of compliance, new boy Matt made this public statement:
"We want touts on the street to be in constant fear of being arrested and dealt with through the justice system"
For that to happen Matt, first you have to start nicking a few and convicting them!
Something hasn't been happening !
Up to now, TfL have been woefully inadequate in this department, with only one conviction for illegally plying for hire in the last decade.
Taking into consideration the statistics released online, a minicab driver, licensed or unlicensed, statistically has more chance of winning the lottery than being convicted of touting or illegally plying for hire in Westminster.
Extra Comment :
We have today been informed that TfL have had 4 convictions in the past three months...2 in Charterhouse Street (City of London), 1 in Clapham High Street (Wandsworth) and 1 at Paddington.
All drivers have been convicted of touting and not having the correct insurance. All have had their DVLA licence suspended for 3 months.
The brief we received did not mention if these convictions were connected in any way to "Operation Neon" and there has also been no mention of their PH licenses being revoked.
YOU REALLY COULDN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.
Anyone in any doubt about how important Wednesday is, watch this video...