Women warned over unlicensed minicabs

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The Independent Online
POLICE yesterday warned that women risk sexual attack if they used unlicensed taxis in London, writes Barrie Clement. According to Scotland Yard estimates supplied to the Labour Party and to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a quarter of 'stranger rapes' in London were committed on minicab journeys.

Steve Rolfe, the policeman in charge of a unit dealing with London taxis, said there was little doubt that there were far more such incidents involving minicabs than licensed taxis. 'Women take greater risks by travelling in minicabs. It is certainly considered far safer to travel in a licensed vehicle. The drivers have to be licensed and their backgrounds checked.'

His comments came after the London boroughs and the Transport and General Workers' Union launched a campaign to persuade women to use licensed black cabs. Ken Fuller, the union's officer for London cabs, said: 'It is perfectly possible for a man to leave prison in the morning, having served a sentence for rape, and be driving an unlicensed taxi in the evening with a woman in the back.' His union claims 3,500 cab drivers out of the 22,000 in the capital.

Eddie Burns, general manager of London and City Carriages, a minicab firm, said 'cowboys' gave the industry a bad name. 'There are good and bad in most trades including black cabs,' he said. 'We take young women and girls home every night from big companies and if there was any trouble, we simply would not get the business.'