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.
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.
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.