Thursday, May 05, 2011

John Mason Replies to New RMT Chairman.

Dear Mr Mason,
The RMT Union will do everything in its power to protect the interests and safety of its members and the travelling public.
Pickets and demonstrations will be used as a last resort when other methods may have failed.
 The RMT TAXI branch have requested meetings with both TPH and your bosses at TFL, both you and your superiors have refused to meet with us on these matters.
 The branch has also written to you to suggest ways that could help to alleviate the problems faced by the licensed taxi trade and the travelling public. The RMT taxi branch has suggested an approach which you could use at venues such as Abacus, where you claim to have no authority, even though you license both the venue and the drivers.
 The Licensed Taxi Trade has yet to see any improvement at venues including the Grosvenor House Hotel where private hire vehicles deliberately block the taxi rank with impunity and it often seems if not with your permission, with your blessing, is this true?
 There appears to be no evidence of your "one strike and you are out" policy. If your policy is so successful why are there still hundreds of TPH licensed private hire drivers still ranking outside and touting for work at venues all over London?
If your own figures are to be believed, how can you justify almost total inaction on over 150 sexual assaults and an average of 2 rapes per month by private hire drivers (licensed or unlicensed) over the last  year?
Furthermore in case you are unsure, the protest outside Windsor House was to highlight the number of sexual assaults and to publicise the inability of your department to come up with a strategy to protect both the licensed taxi trade and members of the travelling public from violent attacks and sexual assaults both day and night. 
 The RMT taxi branch would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss a way forward and help form a strategy to protect both our members and the travelling public.
Yours faithfully,

Paul Walsh

RMT London taxi branch 


Thank you for your email of 23 April.
Without wishing to get involved in unnecessary or protracted correspondence I do believe it is important you and your members have a clear understanding of TfL’s position on the points raised and made.

In the first instance I would respectfully remind you that I have repeatedly stated my willingness to meet with the RMT London Taxi branch on a formal basis should they meet and agree to the driver association engagement policy. To date the RMT London Taxi Branch has rejected any suggestion that they can or are willing to meet the policy and as such I can only continue to politely decline your requests for a meeting.

I have never claimed TfL has no authority for Abacus and would welcome an understanding as to how you have reached this conclusion given my previous emails to the RMT on this matter and actions taken by us in light of the taxi trade concerns regarding this venue.

Similarly, with regards to the Grosvenor House Hotel, we have taken considerable action to deal with concerns raised by taxi trade relating to this location, including increased enforcement of the parking restrictions utilising CCTV and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

As I am sure you are aware, the “one strike and your out“ policy was introduced in August 2008 and since this date the policy  has been revised so that any driver who receives a caution for touting in addition to any driver convicted for touting, will have their licensed revoked. Since August 2008 590 TfL licensed drivers have had their license revoked under the “one strike and your out” policy. Whilst I accept there are still drivers there are still drivers willing to risk touting I feel it is far better to have the policy than be with out it although am obviously interested if the RMT London Taxi branch are advocating its removal.

However, whether you agree or not the “one strike and your out” policy is one part of a range of activities undertaken by TfL to tackle illegal cabs reducing touting and stop cab-related sexual assaults. In addition to the ongoing compliance and enforcement activities carried out by our own Taxi &PHV Compliance Team,
which included over 38,000 vehicle inspections in 2010/11, there are regular
covert and high-visibility operations by the Metropolitan and City of London police forces, often with the support of TfL employees. An expanded full time TfL night-time Compliance Team is being established and they will focus on compliance and enforcement activities at night. We also continue to run an extensive pan-London advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of using illegal cabs, educating people that minicabs must be booked and informing people that they can find licensed private hire or Taxi services by using Cabwise Findaride, the late night marshalled taxi tanks or by calling TfL’s 24 hour Travel information Contact Centre.

Although we have seen reductions in the market share of illegal minicabs and cab-related sexual assaults since this work started in 2002 we know that there is still more to do to continue to improve public safety and reduce the number of cab-related sexual offences. The suggestion that TfL is doing nothing to address this problem is misinformed and misjudged and ensuring the safety of the travelling public and licensed taxi and private hire drivers is fundamental to what we are doing.

The figures quoted in your email are incorrect. The figures for sexual cab related offences for 2008/09 and 2009/10 were:

Sexual Assaults           2008/09              2009/10
Cab-related                  93.                       143.

The figures for 2009/10 show that since 2002, cab-related sexual offences have fallen to an average of 15 to 12 each month and while was is an increase since 2008/09 to 2009/10 since the start of the STaN campaign the overall figure has dropped.

There certainly are not 150 reported offences each month and all quoted figures include reported offences in London Licensed Taxis.

In conclusion I totally reject your allegation that there has been “total inaction” by TfL and that unnecessary, misinformed and misguided protests either on street or outside TfL buildings do absolutely nothing to help improve the safety of passengers and drivers.
Yours sincerely

John Mason.
Director Taxi &private hire

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Freedom of Information request - Gross cost to TfL STaN/Operation Sapphire

-----Original Message-----
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: 25 March 2011 07:39
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Gross cost to TfL STaN/Operation

Dear Transport for London,

Could you please supply me under the FOI Act, the gross cost of The

Safer Travel at Night initiative (STaN)to TfL since its inception

in 2002. And the same gross cost to TfL of operation Sapphire since

its inception in 2002.

As these two policies were designed to run in tandem with each

other under the heading of The Safer Travel at Night initiative

(STaN)I have included both in my request.

Yours faithfully,

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Date: 26.04.2011


Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 25
March 2011 asking for the gross cost to date of both the

Safer Travel at Night Initiative (STaN) and operation Sapphire.

Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and I can confirm that TfL does hold some of the
information you require.

TfL takes cab-related sexual offences extremely seriously and is committed
to improving the safety of the travelling public. It is for this reason
that TfL spends a significant amount on the marketing campaign warning
Londoners of the potential dangers of unbooked minicabs. The budget for
the 2010/11 campaign was around £650k.

Safer Travel at Night (STaN) is one of TfL's key safety and security
campaigns. Independent research shows that STaN is effective in reaching
its target audience, young women, and persuading them not to use unbooked
minicabs. Female usage of unbooked minicabs has fallen from 19 per cent in
2003 to 3 per cent in 2011 - its lowest level.

TfL has made savings on the campaign over the years, reducing its costs
from over £1m a few years ago. We will continue to look for ways to
reduce these costs whilst ensuring the effectiveness of the campaign. The
annual costs to TfL for the STaN campaign since 2002/3 are shown in the
table below.

Year STaN Campaign spend
2002/03 *
2003/04 £85.7k*
2004/05 £782.8k
2005/06 £1,098.8k
2006/07 £1,030.8k
2007/08 £793k
2008/09 £862k
2009/10 £660k
2010/11 £650k

*The campaign was predominantly funded by the Greater London Authority.

Sapphire is not part of the STaN initiative and TfL does not hold any
information on its costs. The Sapphire Command is part of the Metropolitan
Police Specialist Crime Directorate (SCD). The primary role of the
Sapphire Command is the investigation of rapes and other serious sexual
violence with an emphasis on not only bringing offenders to justice, but
victim care and support. Sapphire officers work closely with the Cab
Enforcement Unit and TfL to investigate cab-related sexual offences. SCD
also has responsibility for investigating other serious crimes including
murder and armed robbery.

If this is not the information you are looking for, please do not hesitate
to contact me. If you are not satisfied with this response please see the
attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

Corporate Governance Directorate

General Counsel

Transport for London

[1][TfL request email]