While London is safe for most people travelling at night there are major concerns over the dangers of travelling in unbooked minicabs (also known as illegal cabs and touts) picked up off the street. All minicabs must be licensed by TfL and must be booked in advance. Any minicab that isn’t booked by phone, email or in a licensed minicab office is illegal and unsafe.
Touting / Illegal cabs
Despite significant progress over recent years, illegal cabs (unbooked minicabs, including unlicensed cabs and licensed minicabs touting illegally) remain a serious problem in London. These ‘cabs’ are unregulated and uninsured to carry passengers, and in some cases the drivers are linked to more serious crimes, including rape and sexual assault, robbery and drugs.
We understand that illegal cabs also present a threat to the business of licensed and law-abiding taxi and private hire drivers, intercepting customers and representing unfair – and unsustainable – competition.
To gain a better understanding of illegal cab activity and late night travel issues, we have commissioned independent research on the subject. The results showed that of those Londoners who had used an unbooked minicab, the most common reasons for feeling unsafe were:
- They had to get out of cab before reaching their destination, or had to get out and run
- The driver acted unreasonably when the fare was disputed (eg locked the car)
- They were overcharged or given another price when they got to their destination
- They were taken to an unknown or unfamiliar area, or back street
- The driver took them the wrong way or got lost
- The driver drove too fast, erratically or dangerously
- They felt uncomfortable or threatened by the driver’s behaviour
Our commitment against touts
We recognise that some touts can be aggressive and intimidating to members of the public and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers.
Illegal cab drivers continue to adapt their methods to avoid police detection and deceive the public into believing they are providing legitimate services, putting passengers at risk.
This is an extremely serious matter to us and we are working closely with the police to deter and detect offenders, and bring them to justice.
We emphasise throughout our online and print publications, that it’s important for Londoners and visitors not to approach or accept a journey from a minicab driver off the street, even if the driver or vehicle is licensed by TfL.
- Find out more about the Safer Travel at Night initiative, which aims to reduce cab-related sexual offences