A RESPONSE FROM THE METROPOLITAN POLICE TAXI & PHV POLICING TEAM
On the 12th of May 2017 I E-mailed Transport For London voicing my concerns in relation to the spate of threats and assaults against Taxi Drivers trying to engage in their lawful right to ply for hire on Taxi Ranks. These threats and assaults have predominantly been been perpetuated by PHV drivers who have been illegally plying for hire on these ranks or using the ranks as their own personal parking space. I have subsequently received a telephone call from The Metropolitan Police Taxi & PHV Policing team.
Before I go into the details of the telephone call I would like to thank Silka Kennedy-Todd, Edgerton Rodgers and Neil Hassett for responding so swiftly.
There are certain aspects of the conversation that I cannot reveal so as to protect any ongoing investigations or operations as well as the officers name who contacted me, I was however impressed by the officers' willingness to engage and assist. I was assured by the officer who contacted me that there are certain ranks that are already being closely monitored, some of the ranks that he spoke of were on my list of rank hotspots collated via social media. I asked the officer about the industry setting up its own surveillance teams to assist with compliance, I was informed that this is perfectly legal but direct engagement with anybody illegally plying for hire or parked on a rank is not recommended as this would potentially antagonise an already volatile situation. filming is perfectly legal though, preferably with narration. This intelligence can then be passed directly onto both TFL and The Metropolitan Police Taxi & Private Hire Policing Team.
One of the other issues discussed was what to do if a Taxi Driver decides to ask a PHV driver to move off of a rank and the PHV driver refuses. Whilst most PHV drivers do move off when asked there are some that are looking to provoke drivers into engaging either verbally or physically, the advice given is DO NOT ENGAGE, take details, film where possible, if you have a dashcam then where possible make sure your dashcam picks up the PHVs details. Some dashcams carry more weight legally than others as some of them link directly to a monitoring company or an insurance company whereas some dashcams (and mobile phones) only save to an SD card and therefore aren't necessarily tamper proof and can potentially carry less weight. DO NOT ENGAGE IN VIOLENCE, if threatened walk away, do not carry any form of weapon either on your person or in the Taxi, carrying a weapon is a fools game, you worked hard for your license and it's significantly easier to lose your Taxi License than it is to obtain it. The officer also stated that if we are threatened we must dial 999, no other number. This may seem obvious but it's remarkable how many drivers do not contact the police when under threat. Be aware of your surroundings, if you do get out of your Taxi to ask a PHV to move off of a rank always keep an eye on what the PHV driver is doing whilst walking back to your Taxi.
As an industry to quell this tide of criminal activity we must engage with our organisations, Transport For London and The Metropolitan Police vigorously......This means report, report,report, it doesn't matter how many of us report the same incident, all that matters is that it is reported. it is also worth noting that at certain upcoming events we must make sure that we have mobile ranks available ( The Baftas at The Royal Festival Hall is a prime example) and also inform compliance that there may be a high likelihood of criminal activity at these venues where PHVs are concerned..... Fore-armed is fore-warned.
Lets be careful out there and keep those doors locked