Compliance and enforcement

We aim to maintain high industry standards by working with the police and other bodies to improve passenger safety, and to support legitimate and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers.

To do this, we use a wide range of covert and high visibility tactics to deter, disrupt, and enforce against illegal and non-compliant drivers, vehicles and operators.

For example, as part of our Safer Travel at Night operation, we have teams of officers educating passengers on the dangers of using unbooked minicabs. Alongside them, covert (plain-clothed) officers target touts, fraudulent and unlicensed drivers, and sexual predators - all of whom pose risks to the travelling public.

Reporting illegal activity

To help us in tasking and deploying compliance officers, and investigating allegations of non-compliance and illegal activity, we depend on information and intelligence from taxi and private hire drivers. We are grateful for all information received.

You can send us reports of illegal or non-compliant taxi and private hire-related activity using the web form or email us at TPHintel@tfl.gov.uk with the following information:

  • The nature of the offence
  • Date, time and location
  • Vehicle registration number
  • A photo, if you're using email

What to report

There are many types of reports we find useful. These include:

  • Touting or unlawful plying for hire
  • Unlicensed drivers or vehicles being allocated a booking by an operator
  • Accessibility complaint including refusal to pick up an assistance dog or wheelchair
  • Damaged, missing or fake identifiers
  • Illegal advertising
  • Misuse of the words taxi or cab in private hire advertising (Section 31 offence)
  • Poor vehicle condition (including as a result of a road traffic incident)
  • Smoking or vaping in a licensed vehicle

Our Enforcement and On-street Operations Directorate use these reports to determine what our compliance and on-street enforcement officers do. For example, after investigating received reports, officers are deployed to places where problems have been observed. If the report is against a licence holder, a note will be made on their record of the issue and will be taken into consideration when their licence is up for review. In some cases, if the report is sufficiently detailed and conclusive, we may be able to take action purely on the basis of information submitted and issue a sanction.

We cannot give feedback on each report submitted. This is because while matters are being investigated the subject is protected, by law. You may be contacted to provide a witness statement as part of gathering evidence.

Road traffic offences and serious allegations such as assault (including sexual or racially-motivated assault) should always be referred to the police in the first instance. The police will notify us if a licensed driver is involved so that we can take appropriate action and we can support investigations.

To report a crime to the police that already taken place, call 101. In an emergency phone 999.

Arrests and prosecutions

Dedicated cab enforcement officer arrests

During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), TfL-funded cab enforcement police officers made 510 arrests for touting offences: 96% of these resulted in a charge (with the driver either being prosecuted or a cautioned). A caution is a swift and effective sanction for first time offences where a driver admits guilt. We will normally revoke licences from drivers convicted (or cautioned for) touting offences.

Touting is a recordable offence which allows fingerprints and DNA samples to be collected - which in turn can lead to the resolution of past or future crimes where DNA is available.

TfL prosecutions

As well as prosecutions from police arrests, we also prosecute drivers caught illegally plying for hire by our Taxi and Private Hire compliance officers. Between January and December 2015, we successfully prosecuted 80 drivers for illegally plying for hire and other illegal activity.

Regular operations

As part of enforcement activities, a number of regular operations take place to target particular areas of interest. Some of the key operations and their results are:

Summary

Taxi & PHV's checked during regular operations

1 April 2015 - 31 March 2016

Taxis checked PHVs checked
 Operation Cubo 304 1072
 Heathrow enforcement 392 1754
 Compliance officer activities 4097 5378
 City of London police activities 2325 4444
Operation Neon (from 8 May 2015)  0 7531
Total711820179

Operation Neon

Operation Neon's main purpose is to disrupt and deter touting and illegal plying for hire through high visibility enforcement. It also deals with inappropriate obstructions around venues (such as private hire vehicles blocking taxi ranks). Operation Neon also makes enforcements against engine idling to increase awareness of the associated environmental issues.

Since launching Operation Neon on 8 May 2015, there have been a total of 163 operations. These have resulted in:

  • 12,217 private hire drivers being advised to move on and keep roads clear for taxis and booked private hire vehicles
  • 469 private hire drivers being reported for not having their ID and stopped from working for the rest of the evening
  • 5,602 private hire drivers being reported for not wearing their ID
  • 72 private hire drivers being reported for plying for hire offences
  • 1,572 private hire drives being reported for parking on taxi ranks
  • 4,171 parking tickets being issued

During 25 and 26 November 2016 operations:

  • 265 private hire drivers were advised to move on to keep roads clear for taxis and booked private hire vehicles
  • 2 private hire drivers were reported for not having their ID and stopped from working for the rest of the evening
  • 63 private hire drivers were reported for not wearing their ID
  • 39 private hire drivers were reported for parking on taxi ranks
  • 55 parking tickets were issued

Operation Cubo

This operation supports the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and Home Office strategy of reducing road casualties, tackling threat of terrorism, reducing anti-social use of the roads and denying criminals use of the roads by enforcing the law. It also supports the MPS priority of total war on crime.

During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), there were 35 operations. These resulted in:

  • 304 taxis being inspected, 35 of which were unfit and 43 were given advisories
  • 1 taxi driver being reported for having no identifier on their vehicle
  • 3 taxis drivers were reported for not displaying their identifier correctly on their vehicle
  • 3 taxi drivers were reported for having no badge
  • 28 taxi drivers were reported for not having their badge on display
  • 3 taxi drivers were reported for having no bill
  • 44 taxi drivers were reported for having an unsigned bill
  • 1072 private hire vehicles inspected, of which 69 were unfit and a further 128 were given
  • 8 private hire drivers were reported for having no driver ID
  • 156 private hire drivers were reported for not having their driver ID on display

Heathrow Enforcement

Heathrow is a hotspot location for a range of taxi and private hire related enforcement issues.
During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), there were 31 operations. These resulted in:

  • 392 taxis inspected, of which 49 were unfit and a further 5 were given advisories
  • 1 taxi driver was reported for having no identifier on their vehicle
  • 2 taxis drivers were reported for not displaying their identifier correctly on their vehicle
  • 0 taxi drivers were reported for having no badge
  • 30 taxi drivers were reported for not having their badge on display
  • 2 taxi drivers were reported for having no bill
  • 3 taxi drivers were reported for having an unsigned bill
  • 1754 private hire vehicles inspected, of which 170 were unfit and a further 102 were given advisories
  • 98 private hire drivers were reported for having no driver ID
  • 747 private hire drivers were reported for not having their driver ID on display
  • 17 private hire drivers were reported for other offences

Operation Arizona

Operation Arizona is a plain clothes operation targeted at touting. Tactics include the use of decoy officers and a focus on venues.
During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), this operation resulted in:

  • 212 arrests for touting, of which 115 individuals were charged and 88 were cautioned. Of those charged, 72 prosecutions were successful, 22 remain pending (as of April 2016) and 21 were discontinued or withdrawn
  • 4 arrests for plying for hire
  • 5 arrests for fraud, of which 3 individuals were charged. Of those charged, 2 prosecutions were successful and 1 remains pending (as of April 2016)
  • 4 arrests for sexual offences, of which 2 individuals were charged. Of those charged, 1 prosecution was successful and 1 remains pending (as of April 2016)
  • 11 arrests for other offences, of which 4 individuals were charged. Of those charged, 2 prosecutions were successful, 1 remains pending (as of April 2016) and 1 was discontinued or withdrawn

Compliance Officer activities

During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), TfL Compliance Officers achieved the following results:

  • 5152 taxi drivers checked, of which 6% were non-compliant
  • 4097 taxi vehicles checked, of which 14% were non-compliant
  • The main issues for taxi non-compliance were: documentation (253), other e.g. wrap around livery peeling off (100), tyres/wheels (44), bodywork (42), lights (25), steering (25), underbody (19)
  • 7002 private hire drivers checked, of which 13% were non-compliant
  • 5378 private hire vehicles checked, of which 13% were non-compliant
  • The main issues for PHV non-compliance were: tyres/wheels (151), documentation (64), bodywork (60), lights (59), licence/discs (55), unauthorised livery (20), engine (13), steering (11)

City of London Police activities

During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), the City of London Police achieved the following results:

  • 4444 private hire vehicles stopped and checked, of which 40% were non-compliant
  • 2325 taxis stopped and checked, of which 33% were non-compliant
  • 42 arrests for touting
  • 19 arrests for lack of hire and reward insurance
  • 5 vehicles seized
  • 55 individuals reported to TfL for licensing action

Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC) Cab Enforcement Unit activities

During 2015/16 (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016), the RTPC Cab Enforcement Unit achieved the following results:

  • 510 arrests for touting, of which 343 were charged and 147 were cautioned
  • 29 arrests for plying for hire, of which 25 were charged and 4 were cautioned
  • 175 other arrests, of which 51 were charged and 5 were cautioned

Over ranking and blocking ranks

Over ranking is disruptive to local businesses and residents, and is a major cause of traffic congestion. It also delays bus services and can make authorities reluctant to consider new, future ranks.

Private hire vehicles stopping on taxi ranks cause disruption by preventing taxis from using the ranks. They are not permitted to stop on taxi ranks.

We've identified a number of hotspots where over ranking has caused significant problems. These include:

  • Finsbury Park station
  • Kings Cross St Pancras
  • London Bridge station
  • Marylebone station
  • Outside Harrods, Basil Street and Hans Road
  • Outside Harrods, Brompton Road
  • Outside Selfridges, Oxford Street
  • Paddington station
  • Putney High Street
  • Tooley Street
  • Upper Tachbrook Street (Victoria Station)

Unattended taxis on ranks

Our compliance team is also tackling the issue of unattended taxis on ranks. This has been highlighted in suburban areas where taxi drivers and passengers are prevented from using a rank.

Compliance

Drivers must use taxi ranks appropriately. Our compliance team are targeting rank abuse, whether it be by taxis, private hire vehicles or any other vehicle, at specific locations, including those mentioned above, as a part of their regular deployment strategy.

We ask drivers to be aware of their responsibilities when using taxi ranks and the potential issues caused by misuse. These issues may affect future requests for new taxi ranks in high demand areas.

Drivers who commit offences risk having their licence reviewed.

You can report any problems with unattended taxis or PHVs on taxi ranks by filling out a form or via our Twitter feed. If you have any photos these can also be sent using the Twitter feed.

Problems with private cars parked on taxi ranks in Westminster can be reported to Westminster City Council's parking services.

Badges and driver IDs

Please remember that taxi drivers must wear their badge, and private hire drivers must wear their driver ID, at all times while working. This is a public safety issue as it is an important way for members of the public to identify you as a licensed driver.

We're taking action against drivers who do not clearly display their badge or driver ID. If you are found to be working without your badge or driver ID, this breach of compliance may be subject to penalties and may lead to licensing action.

Insurance

Taxis need to have Hire and Reward insurance in place at all times. Current regulations require private hire drivers to have Hire and Reward insurance in place whenever they are undertaking a private hire journey. It is the private hire operator's responsibility to ensure that the appropriate Hire and Reward insurance is in place for vehicles used for private hire bookings. They must also ensure that a copy of the current vehicle insurance certificate is retained.

Through routine compliance checking and investigations into specific complaints, we take steps to ensure that private hire operators are meeting their obligations under private hire legislation in relation to vehicle insurance.

In addition, an annual licensing inspection includes checking insurance for taxis and private hire vehicles. Insurance for PHVs is also something being considered as part of the regulatory review of private hire services which is currently underway.

Rickshaws/pedicabs

Currently, we do not have the authority to regulate, or license, pedicabs (also know as rickshaws) in London. The Government has announced that it will bring forward legislation that would bring pedicabs within our regulatory framework and subject to our licensing regime. Being able to control, regulate and ban unsafe pedicabs would also benefit the London economy by helping the city to keep moving; the congestion caused by pedicabs is significant, especially in parts of the West End.

In the meantime, we will continue to work with the Members of Parliament and the London Borough of Westminster to run operations to tackle dangerous and antisocial behaviour from pedicab drivers.

Congestion Charge Zone exemption

Ninety-four per cent of private hire vehicles undergoing random Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) exemption checks by TfL are able to account for a valid private hire booking that day. However, given the significant increase in the overall numbers of licenced private hire vehicles, as well as those seen in the CCZ on a daily basis, additional staff have been allocated to increase the number of exemption checks made. We take appropriate action against vehicle owners who misuse their Congestion Charge exemption.

Cross border hiring

Currently, PHVs are not restricted from taking bookings anywhere in England and Wales, provided the vehicle, driver and operator are licensed in the same licensing authority and the booking is accepted within this authority. This is commonly referred to as "the triple licensing requirement" and could cause significant issues in London with enforcement, congestion, emissions and parking.

A national change is required to address issues of cross border hiring which will otherwise further contribute to enforcement, congestion, pollution and parking issues in London.

We do not have powers to restrict this type of cross border operation and are currently raising our concerns with government to ensure we have appropriate controls.

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