Press release, from TFL
As the festive season gets underway, Transport for London (TfL) and its policing partners are stepping up the enforcement of minicabs across the Capital.
Prius driver arrested for touting in Lambeth yesterday
As part of the annual Safer Travel at Night initiative (STaN), there will be an increase in patrols and enforcement at key touting hotspots across London to deter illegal activity and help the public get home safely.
To support the campaign, TfL has produced a hard-hitting YouTube film, which highlights the work of police officers, from the TfL-funded Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cab Enforcement Unit.
It shows the unit carrying out an enhanced STaN enforcement operation across the Capital as they target, seize and arrest minicab drivers illegally touting for business. It demonstrates TfL and the police's strong commitment to stopping illegal minicab activity.
STaN, which has been running for over 10 years, is a partnership between the Mayor of London, TfL, the MPS and the City of London Police (CoLP). It aims to make the public aware of the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs hailed on the street and provides advice on the best ways to get home safely.
The campaign's message is clear - any minicab that isn't booked through a licensed minicab operator is illegal and dangerous. Drivers who offer or accept a journey are breaking the law and putting the public at risk. Unbooked minicabs are linked to serious crimes such as sexual assault and robbery, as well as not being insured to carry passengers.
Steve Burton, TfL's Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: `During the festive and New Year season more people are out and about, celebrating on nights out. We want to encourage people to plan their journey home. If travelling by cab use a taxi or a minicab, which is booked through a licensed operator; online, via an app, by phone or in person at a minicab office, for a safer way home.
`We hope this new video will bring to life the importance of always pre-booking minicabs for a safer journey home, and highlight our commitment to keeping passengers safe and cracking down on this illegal activity.'
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett, from the Metropolitan Police Service Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: "We are committed to reducing the number of cab-related sexual offences and we want Londoners to be reassured that we are using a range of tactics to keep them safe during the festive season.
`We urge people to plan their journey home in advance and if they use minicabs, ensure they pre-book. It is illegal for any minicab driver (even drivers licensed by TfL) to accept a fare without a booking made either over the phone, by email or at an office. Booking a minicab will ensure that there is a record of the journey and it will be carried out by a licensed driver in a licensed, insured car.'
More than 400 police officers are regularly mobilised for major operations such as STaN, and TfL directly funds 68 dedicated police cab enforcement officers, 41 TfL compliance officers - which the Mayor recently announced will double to 82 by the end of 2015/16 - and 32 vehicle inspection staff, as part of the work to stamp out illegal minicab activity across the Capital.
LATEST STATISTICS ISSUED BY THE MPS CEU:
Between April-September 2015 the MPS Cab Enforcement Unit arrested 267 drivers for touting and unlawful plying for hire offences.
253 of these arrests were for touting offences, with 141 drivers summonsed for the offences to date. Of those cases, 61 have been dealt with resulting in 53 convictions (87 per cent), seven cases were dismissed or withdrawn, a warrant of arrest issued to one driver for failing to appear and 80 cases still pending.
In 2014/15, the MPS Cab Enforcement Unit made 572 arrests for touting. 97 per cent of these resulted in a caution or charge. TfL revokes licences of drivers convicted or cautioned for touting.
TfL introduced a "one strike and you're out" policy for any licensed minicab driver convicted of or cautioned for touting in August 2008 where drivers lose their PHV licence for one year. In six months (April-September 2015) 104 licensed drivers have had their licenses revoked.