Just in time for the Christmas break - when thousands of Londoners will be taking cabs or booking private hire vehicles - Transport for London has released the data for sexual assaults by drivers during the previous calendar year. This shows that private hire, of whatever kind, is the only source of those offences taken to charge. It also reminds punters that a proper London licensed taxi is the safest way to travel.
But all those who look in on Zelo Street knew that anyway. So let’s check out what TfL has to say under the heading “TPH journey-related sexual offences”, apart from “We work closely with the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police to prevent taxi and private hire-related sexual offences in London, bring offenders to justice and push for the toughest penalties possible”, which is a statement of the bleeding obvious.
Recorded crime figures for 2017 show that the number of rape complaints was 34, the highest for 15 years. The total number of reported sexual offences was 162, down just two on 2016, both those totals, once again, the highest since 2002. But it is those offences that were brought to charge, which are broken down to operator detail, that are yet more revealing - because we can see whose vehicles pose the greatest danger.
These are broken down into Journey Type, with the offences subdivided into Rape and Other Sexual Offences. The totals for Black Cabs are Zero, Zero, and Zero. Intending passengers have a clear message, and can draw their own conclusions.
All but two of the offences brought to charge relate to “Private Hire - booked via operator”, and who this means is then spelt out in another table. All private hire operators combined - except for one - account for just 5 drivers charged, and six offences.
One operator accounts for 14 drivers charged and 16 offences, of which six resulted in convictions, with a further six awaiting a court hearing, or outcome. That one operator is Uber London Limited. Some habits are proving hard to break.
As to the discrepancy between the number of drivers (19) and the number of offences (22), TfL explains “Three of these drivers were charged with two offences each. One driver was found not guilty for both offences, one is still awaiting trial for both offences and the third was found guilty of one offence and is still awaiting trial for the second offence”. The one awaiting trial, and the one found guilty, both worked for Uber.
And for those wondering about Uber London drivers working out of area, well, if they misbehave, those offences are not included: “Offences that are committed outside of London by London licensed drivers are investigated by the local police force for that area. These offences are not included in the figures”. So Uber’s numbers could be higher.
Taking a black cab might cost the punter a few quid more. But taking an Uber, for women travelling alone at night, may prove the worst of false economies. Uber has been relentlessly promoted by partisan hacks, propagandists, PR shills, and the easily persuaded. But the reality is that, time and time again, it proves that it is unsafe.
And that’s before all the accidents. If you need a cab - use a licensed Taxi.
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