After a night out it can be tempting to jump into the first minicab you see but by doing so you could be putting yourself at risk.
As the festive season approaches and more people go out to celebrate, Transport for London (TfL) and its partners are encouraging Londoners to get home safely by using a pre-booked minicab or a black cab.
All minicabs must be licensed by TfL and booked through a licensed minicab operator and only black cabs can be stopped by customers to pick them up off the street.
Minicabs lined up outside pubs and clubs are breaking the law if they accept a fare without a booking being made first.
TfL and partners are urging people not to approach minicab drivers - and any minicab driver that approaches you is also acting illegally.
A survey commissioned by TfL has revealed that 43 per cent of women questioned up and down the country said they are 'likely to use an illegal minicab'.
The results come as TfL prepares for their annual Safer Travel at Night campaign (STaN) - a joint initiative between TfL, the Mayor of London, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP).
14 per cent of women surveyed said they made no plans for how to get home after a night out, which increases the chances of them getting into an un-booked minicab and puts personal safety at risk.
Officers from TfL's funded MPS Safer Transport Command (STC), CoLP and TfL's Taxi and Private Hire compliance officers will be stepping up enforcement activity to deal with unbooked minicabs at hotspots across London, to help keep the public safe as they travel home at night over the festive period.
This follows intensive enforcement and engagement activity carried out in September for the new academic term.
Police officers engaged with university students across the Capital to raise awareness of the risks of using unbooked minicabs.
The enforcement operation, which involved the STC Cab Enforcement Unit, 32 Safer Transport Teams and TfL's compliance officers, resulted in 73 arrests for touting and over 2,700 minicabs and black cabs were stopped and checked by police.
Siwan Hayward, TfL's Deputy Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: 'Many people who travel in the capital still think that picking up a minicab off the street is legal - but it's not.
'Only black cabs can be picked up off the streets; all minicabs need to be pre-booked through a licensed operator and any minicab that picks someone up off the street, whether they offer you a cab or you approach them, is acting illegally.
'Never get into an unbooked minicab - it's not safe. We will continue to work with our policing partners to crack down on illegal activity in the Capital.
'My advice to Londoner's on the go is to download our Cabwise app and book before you ride.'
TfL launched their Cabwise mobile app, in December last year, and it is still the only app in the market to represent Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles.
To date total downloads of this app across Android and iTunes are more than 39,000.
Inspector Dave Aspinall from City of London Police said: 'Going out and enjoying yourself over the Christmas period is something that lots of us will be doing.
'We all want to have a good time and to get home safely so be smart, plan ahead and if you are going to use a cab to travel around make sure it is a black cab or a minicab that you have booked through an operator or use the Cabwise app.'
Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor, Safer Transport Command, said: 'The Safer Transport Command is committed to reducing the number of cab-related sexual offences and our officers are on the streets of the Capital during the festive season giving women safe travel information to ensure they have safe and secure journeys home.
'After a night out it can be tempting to jump into the first minicab you see but by doing so you could be putting yourself at risk.
'It is illegal for any minicab driver (even drivers licensed by TfL) to accept a fare without a booking made either over the phone, by email or at an office.
'Booking a minicab will ensure that there is a record of the journey and it will be carried out by a licensed driver in a licensed, insured car.'