Question No: 2016/4540
While welcoming the publication on TfL's website of data relating to taxi and private hire-related sexual offences in London can detailed clarification be provided as to why the data has appeared in a different format and seemingly providing inconsistent figures than the response provided by the Metropolitan Police Service to the freedom of information request Reference No: 2016020000642.
Written response from the Mayor
The data provided on TfL’s website regarding taxi and private hire (TPH) related sexual offences includes police data per calendar year from both the MPS and City of London. Further to this, the data are those that have been verified against the TfL TPH database.
The FOIA request you reference in your question was submitted to the MPS to cover specifically the period February 2015 - February 2016 where “Reported sexual assaults of all nature by private hire drivers working for the operator Uber or that have had the operator Uber stated as part of the witness statement”. The response from the MPS provides a result for all sexual offences where the suspect was alleged to have been a taxi driver (152), of which 32 were Uber drivers.
The term taxi driver could apply to drivers of black cabs, minicabs (either legally booked or illegally picked up in the street) including multi occupancy, cycle rickshaws and chauffeur driven cars.
Inconsistencies occur due to the differing time periods, police forces included in the data and the verification process used by TfL for the official figures not applying to the FOIA request.
The Miscellaneous Provisions Act defines a private hire vehicle as, a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage.
A motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a taxi.
Therefore there cannot be a private hire taxi or a taxi private hire.
Mr. James Button licensing solicitor, agrees in his book that taxi is not a generic word, as this legal definition of taxi has been consistently used in every Act since the 1980 Road Transport Act.
It is clearly the wish of parliament (and should be that of TfL and the Mayor's office) that there be a clear distinction between hackney carriages and private hire vehicles and it has become customary in statutes, among government departments, and on the TfL's own website, to refer to hackney carriages as taxis; this corresponds to the international usage of the word “taxi” to refer to a vehicle that is available for public hire, and is allowed under legislation to "ply for trade".
What the Mayor is doing by using the word Taxi as a generic, could be construed as deregulation by stealth.