The dangers of taking an illegal minicab should never be underestimated
The Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service today launched the latest phase of the Safer Travel at Night campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using illegal cabs.
The award-winning campaign has been very successful to date, with cab-related sexual offences down 44 per cent since 2002*.
The proportion of women using illegal cabs to get home late at night has also fallen from 19 per cent in 2003 to three per cent in 2008**.
However, 104 cab-related sexual attacks were committed in 2007* and recent research shows that around half (48 per cent) of late night travellers incorrectly believe that minicabs can pick up passengers that approach them in the street**.
The Safer Travel at Night campaign launches at a time that sees an influx of university students to the Capital, many of whom are unfamiliar with London's late night travel options.
It includes outdoor poster and radio advertising and will continue with TV ads in the run up to Christmas, complementing police work which targets 'touting hotspots'.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'If there's one message I want to get across, it's that women should never travel in an illegal cab - it is just not safe.
'Unlicensed touts could pose a real danger, so if you don't have the number for a licensed cab company in the area, you can use the excellent Cabwise text service wherever you are in London.
'To get two numbers for local licensed minicab firms and a black cab company you just need to text HOME to 60835.
'Simply, it is a number that all those going out in London should save on their mobiles.'
Steve Burton, TfL's Director of Community, Safety and Policy (CSEP) said: 'While we're pleased to see a drop in the proportion of women using illegal cabs, there is still a lot of work to be done.
'Only ever use a booked licensed minicab, and when you make your booking, be sure to give the operator your name and ask for details of the driver and car that will turn up.
'When the car arrives, check that it is the right vehicle and ask the driver to confirm their name and your destination.'
Chief Superintendent Joe Royle, of the Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU) said: 'The dangers of taking an illegal minicab should never be underestimated.
'Working with our partners to raise public awareness, and continuing our dedicated anti-tout initiatives, the Metropolitan Police Service is committed to clamping down on illegal cabs.
'Our Cab Enforcement Unit's dedicated anti-tout initiatives help to reduce crime while at the same time improving the safety of passengers who use cabs.'
Mayor Boris Johnson has taken a tough line on touting, and any licensed driver convicted of touting will now lose their Public Carriage Office (PCO) driver's licence.
He also announced earlier this year that the number of dedicated cab enforcement officers in the Capital would be doubled to 68.
The Cab Enforcement Unit, which is part of the TfL-funded TOCU, has made over 4,000 arrests for touting and cab-related offences since 2003.
Transport for London is continuing to work with boroughs to look at new locations in outer London for marshalled taxi or private hire ranks, at which people can pick up a licensed taxi or book a licensed minicab before waiting in a safe environment.
Late night marshalled taxi or private hire ranks have been established in areas of London which are particularly busy late at night, including Bromley, Beckenham, Kingston and Romford in outer London, and Cranbourn Street (near Leicester Square) and Liverpool Street in central London.
* Metropolitan Police Service statistics
** Research conducted for TfL by Synovate. 703 interviews conducted in January 2008.
Notes to editors:
Late night travel options in London: