Islington cabbies slam borough’s illegal taxi touting

London black cab. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Images

London black cab. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

MPs debated imposing harsher punishments for unregulated taxi touting across London

Islington cab drivers have criticised the borough’s strategy for dealing with the “widespread” problem of illegal taxi touting and unregulated minicabs picking up vulnerable people on busy weekend nights.

Drivers voiced concerns that Upper Street and Essex Road have become hotspots for ranks of illegal and unlicensed minicabs offering rides to scores of vulnerable people, particularly young women and overseas students.

Gary Suter, 59, who has been driving black cabs in Islington for 20 years and lives in Baring Street, said: “There isn’t enough being done about people pulling up outside bars and clubs and just offering lifts without any licence, CRB check or anything.

“Vulnerable people, particularly young girls or overseas students, won’t realise the difference between us and unlicensed drivers and they could be in a very dangerous situation.”

Licensed black cabs are the only taxi service permitted to pick up passengers without advance booking and the only service permitted to use a meter, with Transport for London (TfL) setting the level of fares that can be charged.

After being criticised online for not attending The London Taxi Trade debate in parliament last week, Islington South and Finsbury MP, Emily Thornberry said: “What is important here is that we ensure there is a proper police presence and where there are known areas in which these illegal touts operate, the information is passed onto the proper authorities.”

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Cllr Paul Convery, executive member for community safety, said: “Our Late Night Levy also funds our Nightsafe Patrol Service on Thursday to Sunday nights, an integrated partnership between the council and police.

“Part of its remit is to help tackle unlicensed cabs, and the patrols visit Upper Street and Essex Road every night they are on duty, dealing with any instances they see. This includes taking details to pass on the police, moving them on and discouraging people from using them in the first place.”