Transport for London could have a million enforcement officers on the streets of London, but nothing would change whilst old guard is still in charge
Sadiq Khan, like all politician’s believes throwing more money at a problem is the solution to everything. Khan has committed to a dramatic expansion of the Transport for London (TfL) team responsible for tackling touting and illegal activity affecting the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades.
As part of a concerted drive to improve customer safety, an extra 250 Compliance Officers will be recruited and deployed over the next year to patrol London’s streets and crack down on illegal activity and improve safety. The Mayor’s move quadruples the size of a team which provides a highly visible, uniformed presence in the West End, City and other areas across London. The new officers will be funded through changes to private hire operator licensing so that larger firms pay a greater share of the costs of enforcement.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I want Londoners to feel safe when they take a taxi or minicab and that is why I have approved a major increase to the size of our team that targets touts and illegal activities. It is the first part of a wider programme I will be introducing that will drive up standards in the industry and help our world famous cabbies continue to thrive.”
Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “Illegal minicab activity not only poses a serious risk to passenger safety but undermines licensed, law abiding taxi and private hire drivers. This welcome boost to our enforcement team provides Londoners with additional reassurance and also sends a message to those not complying with the law that they will be caught and dealt with robustly.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: ‘This is fantastic news for Londoners and the black cab trade; it is so refreshing to have a Mayor who recognises the danger posed to the travelling public by illegal minicab activity and is prepared to act to ensure their safety. We welcome this substantial increase in compliance officers, and look forward to working with Sadiq in the future.”
“I want Londoners to feel safe when they take a taxi or minicab and that is why I have approved a major increase to the size of our team that targets touts and illegal activities,” The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
TfL and its partners regularly carry out operations to deter and disrupt illegal minicab activity in the Capital and protect the public from touts. Operation Neon is a joint operation between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster City Council that takes place every weekend.
Considering that over 127 operations have taken place, only 65 private hire drivers have been reported for plying for hire offenses. In the vast majority of cases enforcement officers spent their time advising private hire minicabs for parking either on taxi ranks or in a way to block or disrupt traffic – 9699 private hire drivers moved on to keep roads clear. 5116 private hire drivers were reported for not wearing their badge, resulting in 448 private hire drivers being reported for not having a badge and were stopped from working for the remainder of the evening.
Today’s announcement is the first part of a comprehensive strategy overseen by the Mayor that will herald in a new era for the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades. It will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make the Capital’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.
However, LicensedTransportUncovered.com head of investigations and intelligence, the Secret Squirrel said: “Having investigated TfL for the past 3 years it concerns me that whilst the current senior management is in place it wouldn’t matter how many enforcement officers you put on the streets of London.
“TfL have, with the approval of senior management failed in their duty to not only enforce the law. You cannot have trust in an organisation which isn’t fit for purpose. The London taxi and private hire industry who abide by all the rules are being letdown by a toothless regulator. LTU has given TfL evidence of illegal and criminal activities and the have outright refused to investigate.
“They continue to have an attitude of “we cant see any evidence”. However, if TfL continue to bury their heads in the sand, or choose to deliberately look the other way, you cannot claim to be enforcing the law. Given the opportunity we could keep investigators busy at TfL for years, but senior management aren’t interested. These catastrophic failing not only let down the legitimate trade, but endanger the public.”
The enforcement team will expand to 332 compliance officers by September 2017. Considering the tens of thousands of minicabs and taxis operating in London is this anywhere near the numbers needed?