London cab sex attacks 'increase by 54%'

Londoners are being warned of the dangers of using illegal minicabs as figures show a 54% increase in cab-related sex attacks in the past year.

In 2009/2010 143 such offences were reported to police compared with 93 for the previous year.

Overall cab-related sexual offences have fallen 20% since the city's Safer Travel at Night campaign began in 2002.

New female students in particular are being told not to use taxis that have not been booked.

Transport for London started the Safer Travel at Night campaign eight years ago in an attempt to drive down the number of people attacked by illegal minicab drivers.

Figures for cab-related sex assaults, which include black cabs, reached an all-time low of 93 in 2008/2009.

A dedicated team set up last year to deal with these offences has so far resulted in more than 100 arrests.

Kulveer Ranger, the mayor's Transport Advisor, said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the dangers of getting into an unbooked minicab.

"I urge Londoners, particularly female passengers and especially those students flocking to the capital to study, to please ensure they only ever get into a booked minicab."

Minicabs should only be booked through a licensed operator and when the vehicle arrives passengers should ask the driver to confirm their details before getting in.

Only black cabs can be stopped and picked up off the street without being booked.

Using a minicab that is not booked through a licensed operator is illegal.

Booking a taxi ensures a record of the journey, driver and vehicle is kept and can be accessed if necessary.

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