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What's he got to smile about?

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012

One of the biggest problems facing taxi drivers in London is the army of minicab touts that plague the streets of the capital every night. The greatest concentration is in the West End, but touts are to be found outside every bar and club across the entire Metropolitan Police District.

The touts have no respect for parking restrictions and solicit aggressively at every opportunity with their chants of "Taxi ...Taxi?".

The fact that touting is an arrestable offence and most of their vehicles are unroadworthy and all are uninsured is bad enough. Their many convictions for carrying offensive weapons and dealing drugs increases the risk their passengers take.

The real horror story is the number of assaults, robberies, thefts, sexual assaults and rapes that are committed by minicab touts. Last year's recorded figures were 233 sexual assaults and 54 rapes and even the police admit that this is probably only the tip of the iceberg!

Ken Livingstone acknowledges the extent of the problem and has set aside funds to provide for additional police recruitment to patrol transport corridors and enforce taxi and minicab legislation. This initiative is welcome, but Sir John Steven's decision to restrict the Met's specialist minicab unit to a handful of officers, whilst at the same time admitting that the level of serious offences committed by minicab drivers is unacceptably high, beggars belief.

Sir John Stevens is clearly happy with the miniscule proportion of his 28,000 officers whom he allocates to the prevention and detection of minicab related crime. THE PUBLIC AND THE LICENSED TAXI TRADE ARE NOT!

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