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More than 170 drivers arrested as part of illegal cab touting

30/01/2014

TfL press release.

TfL and policing partners stopped over 5,000 minicabs and taxis across London as part of Operation Safer Travel at Night

·         Mobile downloads of Cabwise app total more than 90,000
·         138,000 ‘Z cards’ with advice on safe travel handed out to Londoners

Over 170 arrests have been made for cab related offences during two crackdowns as part of Operation Safer Travel at Night, a joint initiative by the Transport for London funded Metropolitan Police Service’s Safer Transport Command (STC) and City of London Police (CoLP).

Minicabs picked up off the street without being booked through a licensed minicab operator are illegal, unsafe and pose a danger to the travelling public, including the risk of sexual assault.  The arrests were the result of continued targeted enforcement against un-booked minicabs (also known as touts or illegal cabs) and other cab-related offences across the capital as part of Safer Travel at Night – a partnership between TfL, the Mayor of London, MPS and CoLP to reduce cab-related sexual offences.

In conjunction with Safer Travel at Night’s two main periods of activity – during the new academic year in September and over the festive period in December – officers from the STC, CoLP and TfL’s Taxi and Private Hire compliance teams stepped up activity to help raise awareness of the dangers of using un-booked minicabs. In addition to the arrests, officers stopped and checked over 5,000 taxi and private hire vehicles and drivers. TfL’s face to face teams also engaged with over 77,000 students during September, which included a presence at 24 university freshers’ fayres across London.

TfL’s Cabwise app saw download figures double to 53,000 during the festive period –  with total downloads now standing at 92,000 since its launch in 2012. Face to face teams also visited around 50 bars, pubs and clubs in hotspot locations, engaging with over 55,000 people and handing out 138,000 ‘Z cards’ – information leaflets on how to get home safely.

Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “We’re really pleased with the effort and work put in by our policing partners and TfL teams to get the safety message out to the public about how to get home safely. Un-booked minicabs put the travelling public at risk and we are committed to cracking down on this illegal and unsafe activity. TfL, working with the police, will continue to push for the strongest penalties for those caught acting unlawfully.”

The Safer Travel at Night partnership was launched in 2002 and aims to improve the safety of travelling at night via cabs through industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education. The communications campaign aims to make people travelling at night aware of the dangers of picking up un-booked minicabs off the street, as well as informing them of the best ways to get home safely.

Acting Chief Superintendent Rob Revill, Safer Transport Command, said: “These results demonstrate our commitment to tackling touting and other illegal cab activity in London. Our dedicated Cab Enforcement Unit will continue to be out on the streets of London, all year round, using a variety of tactics to disrupt, deter and detect cab related offences.”

Inspector David Aspinall, from City of London Police, said: “The City of London Police are pleased to have supported this year’s Safer Travel at Night campaign, as we have done previously. Over the past year we have been undertaking enforcement and compliance activity amongst black cabs and private hire vehicles, making sure that they are roadworthy and that we know who is driving them.

We have also worked with the public providing advice on the best ways to get home safely. We also continue to send a strong message to those drivers who plan to operate cabs illegally, it will not be tolerated in the City and we will catch them.”

Vice president of Welfare at Queen Mary University London, Katarina Nordanger, said: “I think it is great to see TfL responding to the safety concerns of students and the general public in such a way – especially when the outcomes of the campaign have been so successful. I would like to get even more involved in the work that TfL does to improve transport safety so as to improve the student experience and make our city a safer place to travel in. It is fantastic how TfL actually talks to our students, and I will continue to encourage people, student or not, to download the Cabwise app.”

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