Figures announced today by Mayor Ken Livingstone show there has been a a 46 per cent reduction in cab-related sexual offences over the last five years, down from 157 offences at the end of November 2002 to 84 at the same time in 2007.
The Mayor has credited the fall to a number of initiatives including the licensing of minicab operators and drivers and the Safer Travel at Night Campaign which has seen the Mayor work in partnership with Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police to reduce the use of illegal cabs.
Unlicensed minicabs are now illegal and licensed minicabs must always be booked through an operator – those that tout off the street are illegal even if they operate from a licensed minicab firm.
Licensed minicabs must also display a distinctive hologram badge to prove their status.
Mr Livingstone has also overseen the introduction of the Cabwise scheme which provides Londoners with a 24-hour text service that provides the numbers of local black cab and licensed minicab and firms.
According to figures issued by the Mayor’s office there were more than with more than 13,000 requests last Christmas alone.
Mayor Livingstone said: “Through Transport for London’s licensing of the minicab trade, and through our work with the Metropolitan Police, we have continued to crack down on illegal taxi touts, and make London safer to travel at night. This work has led to a dramatic reduction in cab-related attacks on women. It has also led to more women becoming aware of the dangers of illegal minicabs, and increasingly unwilling to risk using them.”
“At this time of year it is incredibly important that we continue to get the message out that, because of the options that are now there, no-one ever has to use an illegal minicab. Over the coming year we will continue to work to eradicate illegal taxi cabs from London, and to keep improving late night travel.”
David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport said: “We work hard to ensure that London is a city you can enjoy safely at any time of the day and night wherever you are.
“Crime is down on both the Tube and London’s buses and TfL has licensed London’s minicab trade. There should be no reason to use an illegal cab, and to do so is risking your personal safety.”
Commander Shaun Sawyer, from the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “We are pleased to offer our continued support to the Safer Travel At Night campaign, which highlights the dangers of getting into unlicensed cabs in the capital. Everyone has the right to travel safely and free from menace in London.”
Operators of illegal cabs risk action by the Cab Enforcement Unit, which is part of the TfL-funded MPS Transport Operational Command Unit. So far in 2007 the unit has made more than 1,000 arrests this year.