London taxi and minicab compliance team to be quadrupled

Taxis in Victoria Station taxi rank Image copyright PA
Image caption The uniformed officers ensure drivers comply with regulations such as illegal touting

The number of officers responsible for cracking down on illegal taxi and minicab activity in London is to be quadrupled, Sadiq Khan has announced.

An extra 250 compliance officers will be employed by Transport for London (TfL) by September 2017.

The mayor said it would "drive up standards... and help our world famous cabbies continue to thrive."

They will be funded as part of changes to private hire operator licensing.

The alterations mean larger firms will have to pay a greater share of enforcement costs.

Image copyright TfL
Image caption A total of 332 compliance officers will be employed by TfL by September 2017

There are currently 82 compliance officers employed by TfL.

The uniformed officials are deployed across the capital and ensure cab drivers have the correct documents and insurance, and that vehicles are road legal and safe.

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

For example, an operation between May and July involving TfL officers, Scotland Yard and Westminster City Council led to:

  • 448 private hire drivers reported for not having a badge
  • 5116 private hire drivers reported for not wearing their badge
  • 65 private hire drivers reported for plying for hire offences
  • 1265 private hire drivers reported for parking on taxi ranks

Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LDTA), said drivers would welcome the move.

"This is fantastic news for Londoners and the black cab trade," he said.

Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, said many drivers who were illegally touting for business on London's streets didn't work in the industry.

He said: "Many of these people simply don't work in the industry at all or they're partly in the industry, they're not fully in the industry, and for that reason we shouldn't have to pick up all the cost".

Steve Garelick, branch secretary of the Professional Drivers branch of the GMB union said: "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.

"Protection against illegality is paramount. We are concerned however that the costs borne by operators will be passed on to drivers creating further hardship."

Image copyright TfL
Image caption Compliance officers are deployed on streets across the capital

The RMT's Mick Cash said the measure "fails to regulate the virtual plying for hire of private hire vehicles" by app-focused services.

Earlier this year TfL rejected proposals to impose restrictions that would stop "e-hailing" firms from showing users where nearby available vehicles were.

Tom Elvidge, general manager for Uber London, backed the decision to increase the number of officers.

"It is important that people only use a properly booked car from a licensed private hire operator", he said.

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