TPH journey-related sexual offences

The safety of passengers using taxis and private hire vehicles (commonly known as minicabs) continues to be a priority for us and our policing partners. Passengers should expect to be safe - and feel safe - when travelling by taxi or private hire and no one should ever be subject to any form or sexual behaviour from a driver.

Measures we take to ensure safety

The vast majority of journeys in taxi and private hire vehicles pass without incident. However, we're working with our partners in the police to crackdown on the minority of drivers who offend and put passenger safety at risk.

Joint TfL/Police guidance has been issued to all Private Hire Operators on reporting alleged or suspected criminal conduct to the police in an appropriate and timely manner.

Measures in place to enhance passenger safety which include:

Police and TfL enforcement activity

  • Regular checks/inspections of licensed operators, drivers and vehicles to identify non-compliant or illegal activity
  • Targeted plain clothes operations to deter and detect offenders
  • High visibility operations to deter offenders, for example Operation Safer Travel at Night
  • Police and TfL investigation of all allegations, whether reported directly, through social media, customer complaints, operators or via a third party
  • Processes in place for the police to notify us of allegations and investigations of offences involving drivers

Licensing and regulatory action

  • Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on all drivers and applicants when they apply for or renew a licence
  • TfL licensing action against licensees where appropriate
  • Regulatory requirement that all private hire operators provide their customers with a booking confirmation - this could be by text message, app, email or - if customers are in a minicab office - paper receipt
  • Specific conditions on individual PHV operator licences where appropriate. These include, but are not limited to, the requirement for specified operators to:
    • provide independent assurance reports highlighting compliance with their obligations as a licensed PHV operator
    • introduce and maintain robust systems and processes to ensure the legitimacy of documentation provided by drivers and to take appropriate action where fraudulent documents are identified
    • ensure all safety-related complaints are assessed and actioned within 48 hours of receipt
    • maintain appropriate systems, processes and procedures to ensure the identity of the driver
    • provide regular reports to TfL to highlight any to provide an update on any safety concerns identified and the action being taken
  • Dedicated TfL Taxi and Private Hire customer complaints process, to encourage reporting of inappropriate driver conduct so appropriate action can be taken by TfL and/or the police. Also a reporting mechanism where an operator can also make a complaint about one of their drivers
  • Lobbying Government for tighter controls on cross border hiring as well as additional enforcement powers
  • Commitment to implement the recommendations made by the Department for Transport (DfT) in the Statutory Standards Report published in July 2020, which are aimed at enhancing the safety of passengers using taxi and private hire services, a number of which are already in London - see the standards document on the Taxi & private hire publications page
  • Consulting on the introduction of in-vehicle CCTV as a condition of licensing

Communications

On this page you will find data and information about sexual offences committed by taxi and private hire drivers against fare-paying passengers reported to the MPS and CoLP in 2020.

Explanation of the data

Recorded crime figures

The figures in Table 1 show the annual number of sexual offences recorded by the MPS and CoLP since 2002. The MPS and CoLP are responsible for investigating crimes that have been committed in London. In line with Home Office crime counting rules, the figures relate to crimes recorded by the police during that year, regardless of when the offence took place.

Offences committed outside of London by London licensed drivers are investigated by the local police Constabulary for that area. These offences are not included in the figures below.We take licensing action when notified of a sexual offence by a London licensed driver, regardless of which police force notifies us.

The figures are for sexual offences committed by a licensed taxi or private hire driver and by 'bogus' drivers posing as taxi or private hire drivers against a fare-paying passenger that have taken place in London.

Sexual offences include offences such as rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault, exposure and administering a substance with intent of engaging in non-consensual sexual activity. The figures are broken down into rape and 'other sexual offences' which are the MPS sub-categories for sexual offences. Most of 'other sexual offences' are sexual assaults - intentional sexual touching of another person without their consent. This can include behaviour by the driver such as:

  • Rubbing someone's leg
  • Attempting to kiss or grope a passenger
  • Grabbing a passenger's hand to kiss it

Offences that were recorded by the police in 2020 that resulted in a suspect being charged are outlined in Table 2.
These figures were correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change. Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offences data is updated and published annually.

Guidance on the reporting of alleged or suspected criminal activity

There are various ways the police can be notified of an allegation of a driver committing a sexual offence against a fare-paying passenger. The most common ways include:

  • The victim reporting the offence directly to the police
  • A friend or family member reporting it to the police on their behalf
  • The victim or friend/family member reporting it to us or the private hire operator, who then reports it to the police.

In late 2017, we, along with the MPS, issued joint guidance to all Private Hire Operators on reporting alleged or suspected criminal conduct to the police in an appropriate and timely way.

We recognise that operators may receive notification of a potential crime as a complaint. This may come from a passenger using their services, a driver or another member of the public. It is important that all reports of a potential crime are passed to the police immediately to ensure that they can investigate the incidents effectively and efficiently.

This guidance has resulted in more allegations being reported to the police which explains the significant increases in recorded offences for 2018 onwards.

2020 recorded crime figures

Table 1: Recorded crime figures for Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offences 2002-2020

Year Rape Other sexual offence Total
2020* 23 114 137
2019 26 209 235
2018 27 266 293
2017 34 128 162
2016 30 134 164
2015 28 108 136
2014 28 108 136
2013 17 84 101
2012 23 105 128
2011 30 77 107
2010 21 102 123
2009 24 112 136
2008 12 96 108
2007 15 89 104
2006 14 93 107
2005 15 101 116
2004 25 100 125
2003 27 97 124
2002 43 146 189

*The lower volume of offences recorded in 2020 reflects the significantly reduced demand for taxi and private hire services because of the pandemic and coronavirus restrictions in place at the time.

Not all the offences reported in Table 1 will have resulted in a driver being charged with an offence. This could be for various reasons, including the driver not being traced and identified, the victim not supporting the police investigation or prosecution, insufficient evidence to charge a suspect, the Crown Prosecution Service deciding there isn't a reasonable chance of conviction or that it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

Some offences reported in Table 1 are unbooked and the drivers can't be traced. The police are more likely to be able to trace and take action against a driver when they are licensed, and the journey is booked through a licensed operator as there will be a record of the journey and the driver.

In most cases, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will seek the victim's consent and full involvement in the police investigation to bring charges against the suspect. In cases where the victim makes a decision not to go through that process, the police will use any information they have obtained for investigative and intelligence purposes. we, as the licensing authority, can still take licensing action against a driver even if police or judicial action is not possible.

Information about the location, time of offence and any details about the suspect/s involved are used by the MPS, CoLP and us for intelligence-led enforcement and investigation.

Breakdown of drivers charged by licence status and journey type

We have worked with the MPS and CoLP to provide information about the licence status and journey type for all drivers who have been charged with a Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offence, recorded in the 2020 calendar year.

A driver will be charged when the MPS or CoLP determines that:

  • There is enough evidence for the case to go before the Court
  • The victim supports the police investigation and criminal justice process or there is enough evidence without the victim's cooperation and support for the prosecution

The Crown Prosecution Service must also decide that there is a reasonable chance of a conviction and that it is in the public interest to charge the suspect with a sexual offence

Drivers charged

In 2020, there were eight individual drivers charged with one offence each.

The breakdown of drivers charged with a Taxi and Private Hire journey related sexual offence recorded in 2020 is shown in Table 2:

Table 2: 2020 - Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offences where a driver has been charged.

In 2020, there were eight individual drivers charged with one offence each.

The breakdown of drivers charged with a Taxi and Private Hire journey related sexual offence recorded in 2020 is shown in Table 2 below:

Journey Type Driver's TfL licence status at time of offence Total offences by driver and journey type Rape Other sexual offences Court outcome
Not booked Unlicensed driver 1 0 1 Not Guilty
Not booked Licensed Private Hire driver 1 0 1 Awaiting trial
Booked via operator Licensed Private Hire driver 2 2 0 Not guilty
Booked via operator Licensed Private Hire driver 4 0 4 Awaiting trial
Taxi Licensed Taxi driver 0 0 0 -
Totals All 8 2 6 -

Action against offenders

Where the suspect is a TfL-licensed taxi or private hire driver, and we are notified by the police of an allegation, we immediately assess whether there is a risk to public safety. We may immediately suspend or revoke the driver's licence prior to charge or conviction, if we believe that is in the interests of public safety. In some cases, we may take licensing action immediately, irrespective of the results of the police investigation and subsequent court proceedings.

Licensed drivers

Of the eight drivers charged with an offence, seven were licensed private hire drivers at the time of the offence. Of these seven, six were booked through a licensed operator and one was carrying out an illegal, unbooked journey at the time of the alleged offence.

Of the seven licensed private hire drivers:

  • None have so far been convicted
  • Five are still awaiting court outcomes, and no longer hold an active private hire licence
  • Two were found not guilty - neither of them are currently licensed by TfL

No taxi drivers were charged with an offence.

Private hire operators

The information in this section relates to offences where the journey was booked through a licensed private hire operator.

Of the total eight Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offences where a driver has been charged, six offences were from booked journeys, booked through four different private hire operators. The private hire operators that have had one or more of their drivers charged with a Taxi and Private Hire-journey related sexual offence are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: 2020 - Breakdown of Private Hire Operators which have had one or more drivers charged with a Taxi and Private Hire-journey related sexual offence

Operator/
Trading name
Operator licence number Awaiting court hearing or outcome Convicted Not guilty Total number of offences Total number of drivers
Uber London Ltd/
Uber London Ltd
007979 2 - 1 3 3
Data Cars Limited /
Data Cars
000001 - - 1 1 1
Ajaz Rafiq*/
Airport Express, Herald Car Hire, Herald Minicabs, Reigate Minicabs and Wandsworth Common Cars
004349 1 - - 1 1
Via Transportation UK Ltd/
Via Van
009831 1 - - 1 1
Total number of offences - 4 - 2 6 -
Total number of drivers - - - - - 6

*Both Via Van and Herald Mini Cabs no longer hold an active operator licence.

The operator names listed in the table above are based on information recorded by the MPS as part of their investigation of a Taxi and Private Hire-journey related sexual offence.

Check before you get in

We have made it a requirement that all private hire operators must give passengers a booking confirmation - this could be by text message, app, email or, if in a minicab office, paper receipt. The booking confirmation includes details of the licensed private hire driver and vehicle that has been booked for you.

Passengers should always check before entering a vehicle. If the driver or the car picking you up is not the same as in your booking confirmation, do not get in the car.

Find out more about about safer travel in taxis and private hire vehicles.

Report an incident

If you experience any behaviour of a sexual nature from a taxi or private hire (minicab) driver, including if they comment on your appearance or look at you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, please report it. You will always be taken seriously.

Report a sexual offence such as groping, indecent acts or driver behaviour that feels threatening or intimidating to the police by dialling 999 if it's an emergency. Otherwise call 101 or use the Metropolitan Police Service online reporting tool.

You can also report any inappropriate driver behaviour such as comments that make you feel uncomfortable to us by calling 0343 222 4000 (Monday-Friday, 08:00-18:00) (TfL call charges) or by emailing TPHintel@tfl.gov.uk.

We take these reports seriously and will investigate all complaints against TfL-licensed Taxi and Private Hire drivers.

Make a complaint

You can also make a complaint about a driver's behaviour or any other aspect of the journey to the Private Hire Operator you booked through. Private Hire Operators are required to make a person available for passengers to speak to at all times during operating hours and when a journey is in progress in the event that a passenger wants to make a complaint or discuss any other matter about how a booking was carried out.

You can also make a complaint to TfL online.

Private Hire Operators have been asked to notify the police immediately of any complaints or reports they receive that they consider to be an alleged or suspected crime so they can be fully investigated.