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Photo of the Day 346 – Taxi Operation
Image by West Midlands Police
WEST Midlands Police and Birmingham Council are keeping Christmas revellers safe during the festive party season by clamping down on rogue and illegal taxi drivers.
As people head en masse to the region’s nightlife hubs between now and New Year, officers are targeting dodgy drivers looking to take advantage of high-spirited partygoers.
The operation focuses on regular drivers falsely posing as cabbies and private hire ‘plyers’ looking to pick up fares at the roadside which is against the law and puts the public at risk.
Passengers accepting lifts from private hire drivers plying for business aren’t insured in the event of being injured in an accident.
Only Hackney Carriage vehicles can take on-street fares and, as West Midlands Police Public Protection Sergeant Sarah Little explained, passengers can leave themselves vulnerable at the hands of bogus cabbies.
She said: “The vast majority of taxi drivers operate legally and are earning an honest living – but in the last two years (2011 and 2012) there have been 75 incidents where passengers, usually lone young females, have been sexually assaulted by drivers.
“Many of these offences are committed by people falsely purporting to be taxi drivers – and in cases like this it can be challenging to trace offenders as there’s no audit trail and no booking details or phone numbers to follow up.
“We conduct operations throughout the year targeting rogue operators – ramping them up near Christmas – but people can protect themselves by either booking private hire cars in advance or only using Hackney Carriages.”
Specially-trained plain-clothes police officers joined council licensing officials and HMRC vehicle inspectors last Friday and Saturday night (Dec 6-7) in popular Birmingham entertainment spots – and will be out in force again tonight (Dec 13) on the look-out for rogue operators.
Six private hire drivers – plying for business in Selly Oak, Moseley and the city centre – had their vehicles seized over the two nights after accepting un-booked roadside fares from members of the undercover team.
They will answer driving without insurance charges where they can expect to be fined up to £300 and have six points added to their licence; offenders also face being hauled before the council’s Licensing Committee and having their taxi licenses revoked.
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