Illegal London taxi and minicab crackdown

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced an increase in the number of officers in charge of cracking down on illegal taxi and minicab activity in the capital, the BBC reports.

Presence will be quadrupled as an additional 250 compliance officers are set to be employed by Transport for London (TfL) by September next year. The TfL currently employs 82 compliance officers.
According to the mayor, the increase in officers will “drive up standards… and help our world famous cabbies continue to thrive.”

Changes to private hire operator licensing will fund the new officers. Under the alterations, larger firms will have to pay a greater share of enforcement costs.

The role of the uniformed officials is to ensure that cab drivers across the capital have the correct documents and insurance. They also check to make sure the vehicles being used are road legal and safe.

Compliance officers also work with other bodies to take part in operations to ensure cab drivers comply with wider regulations.

Providing an example of this work with other bodies, the BBC states that TfL officers were involved in an operation been May and July, working with Scotland Yard and Westminster City Council. This operation led to:
  • 448 private hire drivers being reported for not having a badge
  • 5116 private hire drivers being reported for not wearing their badge
  • 65 private hire drivers being reported for plying for hire offences
  • 1265 private hire drivers being reported for parking on taxi ranks.
Chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, Steve Wright, commented that many of the drivers illegally working on the streets of London didn’t work in the industry.

“Many of these people simply don’t work in the industry at all or they’re partly in the industry,” he said. “And for that reason we shouldn’t have to pick up all the cost.”
Branch secretary of the Professional Drivers branch of the GMB union, Steve Garelick, added: “Whilst we broadly accept the need for improved compliance and enforcement for London and its many visitors we want to assure the travelling public that the majority of journeys are safe.”

While Garelick acknowledges that “protection against illegality is paramount,” he raises concerns over the costs borne by operators and whether they will be passed onto drivers, which could create more hardship.
However, Mick Cash from the RMT has commented that the measure fails to regulate the virtual plying for hire of private hire vehicles through app-based services.

The TfL rejected proposals earlier this year that aimed to impose restrictions on “e-hailing” firms from showing users the location of nearby and available vehicles.
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