Saturday, November 02, 2013

Court Reduces Sentence Of Sex Offender Live On TV.

Mashain Pitchei, 45, of Rosebery Way in Tring, jailed for sexual assault

A man who pretended to be a taxi driver and sexually assaulted a young woman who got into his car has won a reduction in his jail sentence.

Two Court of Appeal judges in London cut the original four years’ imprisonment imposed in the case of Mashain Pitchei, 45, of Tring, Hertfordshire, and replaced it with a new jail term of 32 months.

His challenge against the length of the sentence handed down at St Albans Crown Court in April, following his earlier guilty plea to sexual assault, was allowed by Mr Justice Globe and Judge Anthony Morris QC.

Pitchei’s case is one of the first to be broadcast from the Court of Appeal after a near 90-year ban on allowing cameras in court was lifted.

It was argued on his behalf yesterday, that the original custodial term was “manifestly excessive”.

The appeal judges found that the sentence was “too long”, even taking into account the “aggravating features” of the offence.

Giving the ruling of the court, Judge Morris said the offence took place in October last year when Pitchei sexually assaulted an “extremely drunk” young woman who had been out drinking with friends in Hemel Hempstead.

Judge Morris said a CCTV operator saw her on camera and “seeing her state was concerned for her welfare”.

He added: “In a very public-spirited way he thereafter monitored her movements on camera.”

The judge said that in the early hours the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons and was referred to as “K” in court, walked across a road to Pitchei’s car which was parked at the rear of a line of taxis.

“The appellant is not a taxi driver, but it appears that K thought that he was,” he added.

She got into the front passenger seat and the car was seen to drive around for about six minutes. It stopped in a dark area and then the vehicle’s lights went out.

Judge Morris said the CCTV operator “was so concerned for the safety of K that he called the police immediately”.

One of the aggravating features of the offence identified by the sentencing judge was the degree of planning and premeditation involved in his pretending to be a taxi driver to “lure” a woman into his car so he could sexually assault her.

The appeal judges said they considered the appropriate sentence after a trial would have been four years, “which after giving full credit for the guilty plea should be reduced to 32 months imprisonment”.

Quashing the sentence imposed at the Crown Court and replacing it with the 32 months, Judge Morris said: “To that extent this appeal is allowed.”

Friday, November 01, 2013

Just Where Does Sir Peter Hendy Get These Bus Drivers From

On Wednesday this week, Cannon Street was closed to traffic all morning as a TfL bus decided to ram the bollards outside the new multi million pound forecourt of Cannon Strret station. In a bid to escape the cliches of the bollard, the driver then inexplicably reverse into a fellow bus behind him. Both buses now out of service blocked the road for hours causing traffic chaos!

Shock Announcement From Fire Brigade, As They Ask Public To Cancel Firework Displays

Fire Brigade Union Strike

The Fire Brigades Union have called further strike action for tonight from 18:30 to 23:00 and on 04/11/13 from 06:00 to 04:00.

The following statement is from the LFB website ( )

London Fire Brigade is asking people to cancel their amateur firework displays this Friday and attend organised displays instead because of the national Fire Brigades Union strike.

The strike over government changes to pensions is planned from 6.30pm until 11pm on the Friday before Bonfire Night, just before Diwali and the strike also coincides with half term. It is likely to be one of the busiest days of the year for the fire service.

Fire chiefs want the public to help reduce the chances of fires across the capital by attending an organised display rather than setting off fireworks or lighting bonfires in gardens.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:

"Fireworks cause serious fires each year and bonfires can quickly get out of control which is why we're urging people to attend organised displays on Strike Friday.

"During the strike we will have a contingency fire and rescue service of 27 fire engines, crewed by temporary firefighters. Serious emergencies will be attended, but smaller incidents won't so we are calling on the public not to put themselves at risk by lighting fireworks and bonfires."

The 27 fire engines provide a contingency level of emergency cover across the capital during the strike, and will be sent to emergencies including fires in people's homes, vehicle fires, road accidents and collapsed buildings.

The plans are not intended to match the Brigade's day-to-day cover so while strike action is taking place a fire engine may not be sent to less urgent and non-life-threatening incidents. These could include rubbish fires (including fires in bins and skips), fires on open ground, animal rescues, flooding, people stuck in lifts and gas leaks.

Last Bonfire Night was the quietest on record with 126 fires attended in London, which is a fire every 12 minutes. In 2006, firefighters attended 460 fires, around one fire every three minutes. 2012 was also the first time on Bonfire Night that no one was injured by a fire attended by the Brigade.

The Fire Brigades Union is also taking strike action on Monday, 4 November between 6am and 8am.

Save Earl's Court Supporters Club Announce Benefit Gig.

Date: Saturday, 2nd November 2013

Description: Radical Folk and Socialist Magic

Name of event: Benefit of music and magic for Save Earl's Court campaign

Artists: The Free Radicals, Ian Saville-Socialist Magician, Robb Johnson, Evon Brennan, Torben Tietz

Venue: O'Neill's, 326 Earls Court Road, Kensington, London, SW5 9BQ

Time: 7pm - first act on at 7:30pm

Donations: £5.00 waged/£3.00 concessions
Transport: nearest tube Earl's Court

Thursday, October 31, 2013

TfL Threatens Taxi Drivers, After Hailo Accused Of JB.

In their recent Blog post, London's top Taxi hailing app "Hailo", controversially announced a new minimum fare policy. The Blog post states: 
"Let’s look at this from a driver’s perspective. Understandably, they want to spend as much time as possible with a passenger on board." 

“When they’re offered a Hailo job, they are happy to drive to the pickup location and wait a couple of minutes, but all that time is non-earning time. They may pass people with their hand out on the way to picking you up. So it can be quite disappointing if the resulting job is 200 yards down the road to the shop.

“In order to give you the most chance of getting a cab when you want one, we need every driver to know that the job is worth accepting – and that means guaranteeing them a reasonable minimum fare.”

The decision to impose the new minimum charge is a commercial decision taken by Hailo. 
Hailo's customers are advised of the new charges when making a booking. By signing up to use the app they are agreeing to the terms and condition published by Hailo.

Apparently a few customers have reacted adversely, with some saying they will in future be forced to use alternative apps.
We are led to believe, a complaint has been made to LTPH, saying;
"London Taxis are licensed by TfL and are subject to a fares policy set by the Mayor that already includes a minimum fare of £2.40"

Helen Chapman, interim General Manager for London Taxi and Private Hire, said yesterday:
“We are investigating complaints about Hailo introducing a minimum fare policy. 

“It is against the licensing regulations for any taxi driver to charge a customer more than the metered fare.  
Action will be taken against any driver found to be doing so.”

When Hailo first introduced a £5 minimum fare, it was welcomed by John Mason, former Director of LTPH and at that time, no one at TfL or LTPH mentioned anything about it being in breach of licensing regulations.

Indeed, a couple of years ago TfL along with Westminster City Council, introduced a new type of Taxi rank in the centre of London's West End. The Golden Rank, as it was known, had a range of minimum fares. The cheapest being £25. Some passengers were charged £25 to travel just a few hundred yards.

The Golden Rank was welcomed by TfL with no word of it being in contravention of the fares policy or driver's licensing regulations.

Again we've seen LTPH unfairly attack the London Taxi Driver. 

If Helen Chapman is so worried about the public being overcharged, or breaches in licensing regulation, why has she said and done nothing about the nightly rip off of passengers who are touted by RD2 drivers illegally parked in Regent Street, by the Swallow Street Arch, illegally plying for hire?

Passengers from bars in Swallow Street wishing to go just a few hundred yards are often touted and charged between £15-25 for jobs of under a mile.

This situation has been ongoing for over a year since RD2 were controversially issued a satellite office license by LTPH for The Groucho Bar in breach of TfL's own licensing regulation.

If TfL/TPH are to take issue over minimum fares, it must be right across the spectrum and take into consideration minimum fares charged by radio circuits and ride sharing schemes at stations, both of which were ongoing practises long before TfL came into existence.

Helen Chapman's statement yesterday was uninformed and should be retracted immediately. 

Taxi Leaks will make space available should Hailo wish to reply to Helen Chapman's statement. 

Read Hailo's Blog post here:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New York Taxi Of Tomorrow, Has Finally Hit The Streets.

It is now done, the Nissan NV200T taxicab is now in service on the streets of New York City.

The meter on the first NV200T fare officially kicked-off at JFK International Airport on October 23, dropping its inaugural passenger near 13th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. Mr. Ranjit Singh, an owner/operator of Medallion No. 7F20, took delivery of his NV200T from Koeppel Nissan in Queens on October 18.

Eight Nissan dealerships in the New York City region now have the NV200T available for purchase by New York City medallion owners.

These milestones mark the next phase in Nissan’s commitment to deliver the most innovative, custom-designed taxi experience ever to the more than 600,000 people who ride in New York City taxicabs every day.

“The Nissan NV200T demonstrates the company’s leadership in advancing global mobility through modern vehicle design and technology,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president for Nissan Motor Company. “From its fuel-efficient powertrain, to its space-saving design and passenger-centric interior, the Nissan taxi is a prime example of innovative spirit that goes into all Nissan vehicles. We are excited to see the NV200T now carrying passengers around Manhattan, and look forward to bringing the same NV200T experience to drivers and passengers in new markets outside New York.”

The NV200T is powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, made, per Nissan, to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet.

Nissan’s goal is to change the taxi experience worldwide.

Drawing on its full range of commercial vehicle experience – including providing taxis for municipalities around the world – Nissan said it has been called on by some of the world’s largest cities, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Bangkok, to explore how the company can support delivery of custom taxi solutions – whether gasoline, hybrid, electric, handicap accessible or any other desired configuration.

Most notably, London’s cityscape will have a new ‘black cab’ to call its own with the addition of a Nissan taxi to its fleet in 2014. Modified to meet Transport for London’s legal requirements, Nissan said the London taxicab’s custom-tailored design maximizes passenger space and comfort with occupant-friendly features. The five-seater layout complies with specific headroom height requirements that were originally introduced to enable passengers to wear a top hat in the back while delivering significantly reduced CO2 outputs compared to current taxi models.

Nissan has worked with Mayor’s office during the design and development stage of the new London Taxi, and will continue to do so as the project reaches production.


Dublin's Taxi drivers demand damages over 'disastrous' licence liberalisation

MANY cabbies suffered a "financially disastrous overnight catastrophe" as a result of the liberalisation of the taxi licensing regime in 2000, the High Court heard.

They should now be entitled to damages as a result of what was an unlawful and unreasonable move, it was claimed.

Drivers who bought licences from other licence holders for sums as high as €100,000 had their constitutional rights to property, equal treatment and to earn a livelihood breached when the value of those licences was wiped out overnight in November 2000, Michael Collins SC said.

Some drivers bought licences as late as August 2000 but, months later, licences could be acquired by any appropriately qualified person for about €5,000.

While there was some discussion of liberalisation before November 2000, various reports and consultants who addressed the issue recommended it should be implemented on a phased basis and drivers could not have expected it would happen overnight, Mr Collins said.

Counsel was opening actions by three taxi drivers - Alphonsus Muldoon, Vincent Malone and Thomas Kelly - which are regarded as test cases for actions by some 1,200 other drivers arising from liberalisation of the taxi licensing regime in 2000.

The case of Dublin-based Mr Muldoon, the first being opened, is against the Minister for Environment and Local Government,  the State and Dublin City Council.  The defendants deny liability.

Mr Muldoon (66) bought a licence from another driver for IR£80,000 in 1998, plus a IR3,000 licence fee. He claims the 2000 regulations deprived him of an anticipated substantial asset which he intended to use for pension purposes.

He paid for the licence with his IR£40,000 life savings and by remortgaging his home for the other IR£40,000. While he was later paid

€13,000 compensation under the Taxi Hardship Scheme which had a maximum payment of IR£15,000, that did not compensate him for the loss suffered, he claims.

As a result of the new licensing regime of 2000, he was unable to meet mortgage repayments over certain periods, his earning capacity and health were affected and he has been unable to provide for a pension with the effect he faces having to work indefinitely, Mr Muldoon also claims.

Today, Mr Collins argued the licensing regime in force between 1978 and 2000 was not in the interests of drivers or taxi users as it unlawfully allowed local authorities limit the number of licences issued via an impermissible delegation of Ministerial powers.

While there was no dispute the number of taxis that existed during this time was wholly inadequate to address demand,  drivers had not set up the licensing system and just had to deal with it.

While they could benefit if they paid a large sum to operate in this restricted market, what they were buying was a licence expected to be a long-term benefit.

All the drivers did was play by the State-created "rules of the game" and their losses were a direct consequence of that unlawful regime, counsel argued.

The court heard no new licences were issued in Dublin over a ten year period from 1978 beyond the approved number of 1,800. During the 1990s, approval was given for some additional licences. Mr Muldoon claims, when he sought to enter the industry in 1994, he was advised he would have to buy a licence from an existing licence holder.

The State's failure to address issues concerning the secondary market arising as a result of the hackney industry compounded problems, it is claimed.

The "laudable aim" of the new regime from 2000 was to address the clear need for more taxis but the manner in which that was done was unlawful, unreasonable and disproportionate, Mr Collins argued.

The manner of liberalisation involved impermissible delegation of the taxi regulation powers of the Minister for Environment & Local Government under the Road Traffic Acts, he submitted.  It was also contended there were breaches of competition law arising from how, and in what quantities, taxi licences were issued.

Source: independent ie

And now, for something completely different: A thing of beauty is a Jim Thomas

We've had a lot of talk about a new purpose built Taxi for London. Manufacturers such as, Nissan, Peugote, Ford and Frazer Nash, have all shown interest in producing a new London Cab.

The only vehicle that seemed to comply fully with the conditions of fitness and looked ready to go, was the Nissan. Unfortunately the NV200 appeared to have dropped out of sight for a while after certain problems in New York with the "Taxi of Tomorrow". But finally it was given the go-ahead

Although it looks the part complete with turning circle and wheelchair access ability, many London cabbies seem disappointed with the size of the engine. Would a 1.5 petrol/deisel be powerful enough to get a full payload of 5 passengers plus luggage, up Highgate West Hill?

Truth is, the answer lies in the vehicles weight. What most drivers don't realise, it's been done before and quite successfully with the wonderfully eccentric Winchester cab which sported just a 1.5 lump.

But reports in the press today state the NV200T went into service in New York this October 23rd, powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine

When I got my badge in 1973, I like 90% of the trade drove an FX4. There were still a few old Beardmores around, plus 3 different versions of the Winchester Taxi. 
After I had been driving for about 6 months, the fellow I was renting my FX4 from offered me the chance to drive his Petrol/Gas Mk11 Winchester. Similar to this one below

Garages that sold LPG were few and far between in the 70's, so I ran the cab on petrol for most of the time I had it. The model I drove was manual and had a 1.5 ford Cortina engine which was an absalute dream to drive. 

The most amazing thing about the Winchester Taxi, although the last one produced was built over 41 years ago, if put on the road today, it would be more economical to run and less polluting than the any current model.

Below is a piece I managed to find online about the 9 years the Winchester was in production. 
Makes interesting readin.

In 1963, the Winchester MkI was the first taxicab to feature fibreglass bodywork. It was the brainchild of the managing director of Winchester Automobiles (West End) Ltd (a subsidiary of a specialist insurance group which had been formed in the late 1940s specifically to cater for the insurance needs of owner-drivers). 

The deisgn had been developed in consultation with a team composed of cab drivers, opertors and mechanics, with the aim of producing a design which would excel in all areas. The plastic bodywork, initially built by West Drayton-based fibreglass specialists James Whitson over a chassis constructed by Rubery Owen (best known for their classic “Rostyle” wheels), gave the cab two key advantages over the FX4 and Beardmore Paramount MkVII: lower weight and panels that couldn’t rust.

Originally launched with the same Perkins engine as used in the Beardmore, the launch of the MkII version in September 1964 saw this give way to the much quieter and brisker 1.5-litre petrol unit from the Ford Cortina, with the cab’s lower weight ensuring that performance remained adequate. From 1965 the bodywork was made by Wincanton Transport and Engineering (who also built milk floats for their parent company, the United Dairy Group), and MkIII version followed, with minor modifications.

In 1968, the Winchester MkIV appeared, with an all-new body design giving it a much more modern appearance. Chassis production moved to Keewest Development Ltd in Hampshire, who also carried out the necessary modifications required for it to accept the new bodywork (which was still produced by Wincanton). The Winchester MkIV remained in production until 1972, before the laws of economics proved it to be unsustainable, due to its pitiful 2% share of the market. Indeed, total production for all versions failed to reach 200 over the 9-year run.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Action Speaks Louder Than Just Words. Press release concerning licence renewal hold ups.

TfLTPH Press Release Concerning DBS/CRB Checks.

I know you all share concerns regarding the issues with the DBS following the changes implemented by the Home Office earlier this year.

The Mayor and TfL have continued to raise this issue with the Home Secretary and other delegates within the Home Office. As a result of our correspondence the Home Office agreed to a meeting with Sir Peter Hendy and this took place last week.

I am pleased to advise you that following discussions, the Home Office have agreed to escalate cases for taxi and private hire drivers that are older than 45 days with the relevant police forces to ensure these are prioritised. Usually the DBS would not escalate a case until it is over 60 days old.

We are confident that this will go a long way to resolving the issues of drivers being unable to work.

For the longer term with renewal packs now being sent with four months notice and drivers signing up to the update service this issue should soon diminish as everyone settles into the new ways of working and the transition period comes to an end.

The Home Office have confirmed the agreement in writing and I attach a copy of the letter.

Regards Helen Chapman


22 October 2013

Dear Sir Peter,

Thank you for your letter of 17 September to Mike Anderson here, and for attending our meeting on 15 October. I hope you found it helpful.

As we discussed, the change in your licensing procedures has coincided with a backlog of DBS checks which have been referred to police forces. These cases have been referred to police forces because they may be holding relevant police intelligence information. The police must in each case consider whether or not the information relates to the applicant and, if it does, whether it should be disclosed. Delays in this part of the process have resulted in delays in the issuing of some checks and this is clearly impacting upon taxi drivers seeking to renew their licenses.

The DBS already has specific recovery plans in place with the police forces responsible for the greatest delays but we agreed some additional measures for taxi drivers. As I explained, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has agreed to put in place specific arrangements to help conclude those checks as quickly as possible.

It will actively follow up on individual applications from taxi drivers which are significantly delayed, highlighting these cases so that they can be quickly resolved. We agreed that we should focus on clearing the oldest checks first and, as a result, DBS will highlight any case which has not been resolved after 45 days, drawing it to the attention of the relevant police forces. This new process will be brought into effect immediately.
You also indicated that renewal packs are now being issued to drivers at least 4 months in advance, which should provide sufficient time for certificates to be issued.

In addition, the DBS e-bulk service provides information on when certificates have been issued and whether they are clear of any criminal record information. In these cases, TfL are able to go ahead with renewing licenses as soon as this information is available.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Safer Transport Command tells Cyclists - Be safe, be bright, be seen

The Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC), funded by Transport for London, is urging cyclists to be safe, be bright and be seen this Autumn in a bid to further improve cycle safety in the capital.


During the week of 28 October 2013 the STC Roads Policing Unit (RPU) will be running a pan London initiative at designated sites to encourage cyclists to equip their bikes with front and rear lights or be given a £50 fine if they fail to do so. 

Should a cyclist receive a fine by the RPU they will be given three days to have a set of lights fitted to the same bike and if they comply the fine will be cancelled. The onus is on the cyclist to return and satisfy these requirements or the ticket will be processed as normal.

By law a bicycle must have a working white front light and a working red rear light. October is a peak month for cycle fatalities and serious collisions and with the clocks going back on Saturday 26th/Sunday 27th October, cyclists used to commuting home after work in daylight may now find they do so in darkness.

Additionally cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by wearing bright clothing in the day and reflective clothing or accessories at night.

Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor, Safer Transport Command said: 
"The Safer Transport Command (STC) and Transport for London are committed to promoting safe cycling and reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on London's roads. 

"With fewer daylight hours at this time of year, it is even more important that cyclists have good lights on their bikes - white at the front and red at the rear - so that they are visible to motorists and pedestrians. It is also a requirement by law that they do so. 

"I urge every cyclist to affix lights and wear highly visible clothing. Our message is clear: BE SAFE, BE BRIGHT, BE SEEN." 

Siwan Hayward, Transport for London's Head of Transport Policing, said: 
"As the days become shorter and we approach winter we want to remind all cyclists to check their lights are working, ensuring they are bright enough to be seen clearly in the dark. 

"As part of the Mayor's Vision for Cycling and our commitment to cycle safety we will be working with our policing partners on educating cyclists on violations such as this to help increase their safety. 

"We also work closely with the borough's to offer cycling training to help educate cyclists about how to stay safe whilst cycling which I would like to encourage everyone to take advantage of." 

The law requires that a bicycle has a working white front light and a red rear light between sunrise and sunset  (

Taxi Leaks Offer LTPH "A Simple Solution To Taxi Bill Renewal Chaos"

An open letter to whoever will be taking charge of LTPH, after last weeks reshuffle.

Dear Sir or Madam  

We have noticed that even with the bad publicity, appertaining to the incompetence and poor performance of your licensing department, the former interim General Manager failed to come up with a solution to the "Bill renewal" hold ups.

Many drivers have been forced off the road for weeks because of your new system that clearly doesn't work in respect of DBS/CRB checks. 

Some drivers are even calling for Brazilian national Marcos Gurgel to be reinstated, saying: "At least he could get you back on the road, same day".
We have previously been informed by your office, that the reason for the delays lies with the contractors picked to handle the CRB checks. I believe that's referred to as passing the buck!

Your subcontracted agent has consistently failed to achieve desired targets, therefore the contract should be scrapped and given to a company who can actually deliver and meet required targets. 

As transport commissar Sir Peter Hendy refuses get involved and your department seem unable to find such a company, we have taken the liberty of finding one for you.

uCheck Ltd and "

The company we found, promises to return CRB enhanced disclosures in a matter of hours (instead of months) and they claim their current record stands at 4 hours 

Below is an email received by one of Taxi Leaks top researchers.

 Good Morning,

We contacted organisations recently giving full information about our rapid online disclosure service. The take up was huge and here are some of the reasons why:-

·         Disclosures back much quicker – Enhanced Disclosures can now be with you in hours (our record is four hours!).

·         You still get a Disclosure certificate for clear Disclosures.

·         We charge the minimum we can so you save money too!!

If you would like further information about our service, please email and we’ll forward further details without delay.

Kind Regards,

The UCheck Disclosure Team

uCheck Ltd and

General Outsourcing Of Services.
We've spoken to drivers who have enquired about their Bill renewal over the phone. It transpired they were told at the time of the call: "LTPH are in possession of the completed renewal and CRB and admin staff will process and post to you, as soon as possible."

These drivers then had to wait even longer while the bills were sent out by 2nd class post.

Also, to help clear the present backlog, what's wrong with letting the driver come over to Palestra to pick up the renewal from reception?
They could then go straight off to work!

Could it be that licensing is no longer carried out at Palestra and the whole process has been subcontracted out to a private company outside London?
(Sort of a Project Horizon by stealth!)

Let's remind ourselves what happened the last time "Project Horizon" reared it's ugly head.

Headlines Evening Standard 10th November 2011.
 TfL manager plunges to his death at HQ 'after hearing of redundancy'

Headlines, Daily Mail, 11th November 2011.
TfL manager, 53, falls six storeys to his death in front of colleagues 'moments after being told he was redundant'


A senior manager of Transport for London jumped six storeys to his death in front of shocked colleagues at the company's headquarters after allegedly hearing he was being made redundant. 
Jack Shemtob, 53, landed in the lobby of the new office block next to the O2 Arena in Greenwich, South-East London, minutes after catching the lift to the top floor. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Curious Incident of the Three-Legged Dog in the Nightime

Police in Lambeth have arrested three people after a police vehicle was rammed by a van in Tulse Hill.

At approx 2250hrs on Thursday, 24 October an unmarked police car in Cherry Close, SW2 indicated for a white Citroen van to stop after the van had triggered an ANPR activation for involvement in the theft of mopeds.

The van pulled over and the unmarked police car pulled up behind, indicating its presence by activated its blue lights. As it did this, the van reversed - ramming the police vehicle at least two times and injuring the two officers inside. 

The van then made off from the scene and a short pursuit occurred with a marked police vehicle. As the vehicles travelled along Brixton Hill, again the white van rammed the police vehicle. The van was then abandoned in St Saviours Road, SW2 and the occupants fled on foot.

The details of the van's occupants were circulated, including one particularly distinctive description of a grey haired man seen carrying a three-legged black dog.

Approximately an hour later, a Lambeth officer on patrol in Leigham Court Road, SW16 saw a blue Nissan car containing three men - one of them carrying a remarkably similar looking three-legged black dog. A quick check noted that this vehicle was registered to the same keeper as the white Citroen van.

Backup was called and the vehicle was stopped at a petrol station a short distance down the road.

Three men, aged 18, 42 and 67, were arrested for a variety of offences including GBH, failing to stop, possession of a bladed article and driving offences. They remain in custody at a south London police station.

Borough Commander for Lambeth, Chief Superintendent Matt Bell, said:

"I am thankful that the reckless actions of these people has not resulted in any serious injuries to my officers, but this incident once again demonstrates the dangerous work that police officers carry out on a daily basis.

"This series of events demonstrates the best qualities of Lambeth officers - from the bravery of those involved in the initial stop, the pursuit and arrests, to the eagle-eyed work of the officers who identified the suspects.

"I am immensely proud of their actions."

None of the officers were seriously injured during the incident.

Source: Met Press Bureau.

Over-strength' Lambeth police defend officer cuts

Police officer numbers in Lambeth have fallen by 20 per cent over the past two-and-half years, it has been revealed, after the borough’s top cop claimed the borough had been “over-strength” for years.

A week after the police chief of neighbouring Southwark resigned and claimed the Metropolitan Police was in “financial crisis”, the latest figures for Lambeth show a drop of nearly 200 officers in two-and-a-half years – 1,038 in March 2010 to 846 at present.

Sergeants, including those who led the borough’s safer neighbourhood teams, also fell over the same period from 119 in 2010 to 88 at the beginning of October.

Chief Superintendent Matt Bell said Lambeth police had been “over strength” for years and now has just over the number of officers it should.

Chief Supt Bell said: “While there are fewer officers than in 2010-11, performance in the borough has improved this year, with reductions in burglary, robbery, serious youth violence, gun and knife crime.

“The Metropolitan Police Service remains committed to maintaining operational capability during the current financial climate and the challenges that presents.”

Last week, Southwark’s borough commander Charles Griggs announced his departure from the Met after only nine months in the job, saying the force faces a “financial crisis”.

He told colleagues: “Sadly, as part of the budget cuts in response to that crisis it has not been possible for the Met to honour their commitment to my three-year tenure.”

Lambeth and Southwark’s London Assembly member, Val Shawcross, said she feared the drop in police numbers could result in a resurgence of crime in Lambeth.

Ms Shawcross said: “It has been clear that police numbers have been falling last year and this year.

“I think it’s a real concern to the community.

“It’s a very poor situation at the moment and I fear it could get worse.”

She said the cash crisis and cuts were being “very badly managed” with no clear information coming from the Mayor of London’s office.

In Gipsy Hill the safer neighbourhood team has been halved since the start of the year because Sergeant Lee-Ann Mills is on maternity leave and two PCSOs have left without being replaced.

David Green, chairman of the Gipsy Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said: “We must have police officers patrolling the streets and if this is being cut down they cannot be in two places at the same time.

“The impact is loss of confidence and the sense of personal wellbeing would be that much diminished.”

Source: Gaurdian. 

Swansea taxi drivers "like a collection of tramp and scarecrow look-a-likes"

A CALL has gone out for a code of conduct and dress code to be introduced for taxi drivers - to stop them looking like "a collection of tramp/scarecrow look-a-likes".

Swansea resident Kelvin Hughes raised the issue after what he said was a bad experience with a cab in the city.

But cabbies and Swansea Council had defended taxi drivers in the county.

Mr Hughes said: “On crutches I caught a taxi: did the driver get off his backside to help? Of course not.

“People, tourists or business people arrive in Swansea for the first time and what do they see? A collection of tramp/scarecrow look-a-likes purporting to be taxi drivers.”

In the light of Swansea Bay’s bid to become the City of Culture in 2017, Mr Hughes called for a code of conduct and a dres code to smarten-up the image of taxi drivers.

But registered cabbies have rejected the accusation of slovenliness.

One driver, Andrew Bennett of Gorseinon's Phoenix Cabs, said helping people was part of the job.

Mr Bennett, who has been a taxi driver for 18 years, said: “I always make sure I look presentable as it provides people with a good opinion. I wear a polo shirt with my firm's name on it.

"Our job is dealing with the public and helping people is part and parcel of our job. If someone is struggling we make sure we help them."

He added: "A lot comes down to the driver’s personality – it’s in my nature to help someone out if they need assistance.”

A spokeswoman for Swansea Council said there were safeguards in place, and that the byelaws covering hackney carriages stated that drivers "must be suitably attired in suitable clean clothing" and their cabs must been clean, inside and out.