Sexual offences committed in London private hire cars and taxis surge in 2016

Figures from the police, compiled by Transport for London, show that the number of taxi and private hire journey-related sexual offences hit 164 in the capital last year, of which 30 cases were rape

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Friday 17 November 2017 15:44 GMT

The number of sexual offences that were recorded to have taken place in London taxis and private hire cars surged by 20 per cent last year to its highest level since 2002.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police, compiled by Transport for London and published on Friday, reveal that the number of taxi and private hire journey-related sexual offences hit 164 in the capital last year, of which 30 cases were rape, up from a total of 136 in 2015, of which 28 were classed as rape.

Not all of those cases resulted in a charge, but of the 34 that did, 26 cases happened in licensed private hire cars that were booked via one of 13 different operators.

No licensed black cab driver was charged.

In total, twelve drivers were convicted, of which five worked for Uber. One driver was convicted of two offences. Five individuals are still awaiting a court hearing on the outcome, and three of those drove for Uber.

None of the drivers who were charged with an offence currently hold an active private hire driver's licence, TfL said.

A spokesperson for the authority told the The Independent that convictions were easier to secure if rides were booked via an operator or an app, like Uber.

According to TfL data cited by Uber in response to Friday’s numbers, there were 116,595 private hire driver licences in London in December last year, of which 63,656 were registered with Uber, meaning that 55 per cent of licensed private hire drivers are registered with Uber.

Offences committed by Uber drivers were therefore broadly in-line with the company’s market share.

The figures take into account incidents of rape, attempted rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault.

Uber has battled numerous allegations of sexual harassment globally in recent years and in September TfL announced that it was suspending the company’s licence to operate in the city in its current form, specifically citing concerns around health and safety.

An Uber spokesperson said that the company takes any allegations of this nature very seriously, immediately prevents drivers who face charges from using the app and supports the police with their investigations.

The spokesperson also said that all drivers who use the app in London are licensed by TfL and have gone through the same background checks as black cab drivers.

“Our GPS technology also means that every trip - more than two million in London each week - is electronically tracked and recorded,” the spokesperson added.

TfL has ramped up efforts to crack down on acts of sexual offence in recent years, but figures have been climbing steadily over the past few years.

The authority said that it had recently quadrupled the number of taxi and private hire compliance officers who provide regular checks of licensed operators, drivers and vehicles.

On Friday it said that the police and TfL investigate all allegations, whether reported directly, through social media, via a customer complaint, operators or a third-party.

“No one should ever be subjected to sexual behaviour while travelling in a minicab or taxi and, of the tens of millions of taxi and private hire journeys made in London every year, the vast majority go without incident,” said Siwan Hayward, TfL’s head of transport policing in a statement.

“We expect the highest standards of behaviour and any sexual behaviour by a licensed driver towards a passenger is unacceptable. We would urge anyone who experiences this to report it to TfL and the police,” she said.

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