Monday, March 02, 2009

Taxi Purge

Recently I met a delegation of black cab drivers at City Hall. Amongst other matters, they drew my attention to illegal minicabs operating in parts of Redbridge and asked for action to deal with the problem. It is difficult to put a stop to this scourge but regular police operations disrupt the touts and encourage them to take their business elsewhere. Having been robbed by an unlicensed driver some years ago I am aware of the menace and I decided to bring it to the attention of the Mayor:

Roger Evans: Will you ensure that more is done by the police and the Public Carriage Office to crack down on illegal minicabs operating at Gants Hill / Wanstead High Street / South Woodford?

Boris Johnson: TfL works very closely with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police to tackle taxi touting and illegal cabs across London

The MPS Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU), funded by TfL, has a dedicated pan London Cab Enforcement Unit (CEU), responsible for enforcing the law relating to taxis and private hire vehicles in London. The police use a broad menu of tactical options to tackle illegal cab issues including covert and highly visible activities deploying to priority areas across London.

Gants Hill

The TOCU regularly deploy in the Gants hill area, working in partnership with local policing teams to carry out routine patrols and enquiries in response to intelligence received. In addition to these patrols, the CEU has undertaken three plain clothes operations working alongside the Gants Hill safer neighbourhood team focussing on the Faces nightclub. These activities have led to a number of arrests.

Wanstead High Street

An operation working with the local safer neighbourhood team targeting Wanstead High Street was planned in 2008 but ultimately relocated to Gants Hill due to more specific intelligence received. Touting issues at this location are kept under review and will be considered as part of their future tasking decisions.

South Woodford

The TOCU regularly deploy to South Woodford, carrying out patrols and enquiries in response to intelligence received. In addition to these patrols, the CEU has undertaken a number of joint plain clothes operations with local policing teams including the Churchfields safer neighbourhood team - two of these operations have focussed on Mojo's nightclub and led to a number of arrests.

TfL has also introduced tougher penalties for any licensed driver convicted of taxi touting to send out a clear message that this will not be tolerated. From 1 August 2008, licensed drivers convicted of taxi touting will lose their license for a maximum of one year. Over 50 PHV licenses have already been revoked since this date.

So now the Mayor is aware of the problem. I would like to know about other touting hotspots in Havering or Redbridge so that I can bring them to his attention.


morris hickey said...

Don't get TOO tough with the taxi trade - Brian Coleman will never forgive you.

Roger Evans said...

Morris, I'm only targeting illegal unlicensed cabs and nobody should need to complain about that...

morris hickey said...

I wasn't. Maybe you should also target driving standards of cab drivers, including licensed ones.

Peter Hulme Cross said...

Taxi touts are not just an outer London problem, Roger. Plenty of it goes on around Mayfair and Piccadilly. Why don't you ask to go out with the Cab Enforcement Unit one evening?? It's quite an 'eye opener'!

You may remember this was all brought up at the last Transport Committee meeting with Peter Hendy before the election last May. You were in the Chair.

I'm glad to hear 50 or so Licences have been revoked for 'touting', so there is progress being made, but it is still a pretty endemic and widespread problem and I wonder if enough is really being done to stamp it out.

As you know, a member of the public getting in to a 'touted' cab in uninsured and if anything untoward happens , like a robbery or rape, it is very hard to trace. This is about ensuring the public can travel in a PHV in safety.

Rog T said...


It would seem a shame to let any discussion about Taxi's in London pass without mentioning one of their finest patrons. I am running a little poll on my blog for the No1 Hypocrite.

As I know you don't like your blog to be used exclusively for people like me to bash up your colleagues, I've included Peter Mandelson in my list (in my last poll 31% of the voters said they were Tories, so I suppose he's got a good chance of winning).

Can't say fairer than that really

Vote for the No 1 Hypocrite here

Roger Evans said...

Peter - good to hear from you. I went out with the enforcement unit some years ago but perhaps it's time for a repeat visit. My questions are exclusive to my constituency as I'm no longer on the transport committee - and I didn't want to hang around looking over the shoulder of my successor, unlike some other politicians I could name...

Rog T - oh, all right. I've cast my vote and his lordship is already racing ahead...

Rog T said...

Sorry it's a bit off the subject, but I am doing a blog on Mandelson and the history of similar characters. I honestly couldn't think of a similar character in the Tory Party history. Are there any Rasputins in the cupboard you can think of? (or were they just kept in the cupboard so we never got to hear about them).

Roger Evans said...

During the early Thatcher years Sir Keith Joseph was sometimes referred to as 'Rasputin', at least by Private Eye, however his influence was in policy rather than presentation.

We have also had our presentation gurus, the most famous of whom were the Saatchi brothers, but they kept to their own specialism and never sought election.

It is that crossover to elected politics that makes his Lordship unique, even distinguishing him from Alastair Campbell. I don't think we have ever produced such a character and I suspect that only the New Labour project could have done so. Didn't Tony Blair once say that he would know he had transformed his party when they came to love Peter Mandelson?

morris hickey said...

If that is what he said then clearly the transformation has not been completed!

Rog T said...

yes I thought of Sir Keith Joseph, but I couldn't really compare him to Mandelson - it just doesn't work does it? I think everyone understood Joseph's politics and motivation.

I suppose by Tony Blair's criteria as you described, he's failed miserably.

Imagine my surprise that at the moment Mandy has over 50% of the vote