This year’s first phase of Operation Safer Travel at Night (STaN) has resulted in over 40 arrests being made for touting and other cab-related offences over three weekends this autumn.
Op STaN involved officers from the Cab Enforcement Unit and 32 Safer Transport Teams, who form part of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Roads and Transport Policing Command, part funded by Transport for London (TfL).
They checked over 1,700 vehicles and spoke with over 10,000 women to warn them that any minicab that isn’t booked through a licensed minicab operator is dangerous and puts them at risk of attack, including sexual assault and robbery.
The Safer Travel at Night (STaN) initiative is a partnership between the Mayor, TfL, The MPS, City of London Police and British Transport Police to improve the safety of travelling at night through industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education. The 2014 Safer Travel at Night communications campaign aims to make people aware of the dangers of picking up un-booked minicabs off the street, such as robbery and sexual assault by encouraging people to take and share a #HomeSafeSelfie and pledge to never take an illegal minicab home.
In 2013/14 the number of cab related sexual offences in London fell by 15 per cent compared with the previous year, with specific rape offences down 30 per cent. However, one incident is too many and the Safer Travel at Night initiative is dedicated to driving this down further. Over 700 arrests were made in 2013/14 for illegal touting for hire, and over 8,000 since 2003. Through Safer Travel at Night and #HomeSafeSelfie TfL wants to remind everyone that:
– A minicab that has a licence or sticker in the window (or a driver who has a badge) still needs to be booked in advance with a licensed minicab firm;
– You should never take a minicab offered by a bouncer or someone in a high visibility jacket with a clipboard outside a venue;
– A minicab driver that approaches you directly on the street is acting illegally;
– If you approach a minicab directly, only the driver knows where you’re going, which isn’t safe;
– If any of the above takes place your minicab isn’t booked and therefore is not safe and illegal
Acting Superintendent Andrew Johnstone, Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: “Our increased policing activity by our dedicated Cabs Enforcement Unit and Safer Transport Teams during the Freshers period has resulted in over 40 people being arrested for touting and over 10,000 women being warned of the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs, covering the Freshers period.
“It is not worth the risk of getting into unbooked minicabs picked up off the street. Any minicab journey that isn’t booked is dangerous and puts you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
“We will continue to carry out these operations as part of our ongoing drive to tackle illegal minicab drivers operating in the Capital and to ensuring Londoners travel safely at night.”
Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Deputy Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “We continue to work with our policing partners to crack down on illegal cab touts in the capital, as part of our ongoing efforts to tackle the danger they pose to the travelling public and make sure everyone gets home safely.
“Many people who travel in the capital still think that picking up a minicab off the street is legal – but it’s not. Only black cabs can be picked up off the streets; all minicabs need to be pre-booked through a licensed operator and any minicab that picks someone up off the street, whether they offer you a ride or you approach them, is breaking the law. Never get into an unbooked minicab. They are not safe.
“We need Londoners help make safe choices and stifle demand for illegal cab touts. Support our latest Safer Travel at Night campaign, by pledging with your friends not use a bogus cab and post your #HomesSafeSelfie to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.”