In a recent TaxiPoint report on bilking after video footage emerged of two police officers seemingly dealing with the offence inadequately we now hear back from the Metropolitan Police to clear up what has long been a grey area.
Caroline Pidgeon, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee at the GLA, was kind enough to help us highlight a possible breakdown in police procedure where bilking is concerned by contacting the relevant parties.
Jas Sandhu from the Metropolitan Police Taxi and Private Hire Unit, who took the time to speak to TaxiPoint said:
“I will raise the issues in Steve Kenton's email at the next Taxi and Private Hire Stakeholder meetings run by TfL. This should help to identify how widespread the issues are and how they can be addressed. I am going to speak to Steve Kenton on Monday 23rd April.
“The training for the criminal offences that Steve Kenton mentions, i.e. making of without payment and obtaining services dishonestly, is done as part of initial police training.
“Advice to drivers is to call 101 or report offences ONLINE if they are reporting after incident has taken place. If offence is taking place at the time or there is violence being threatened or used then the advice would be call 999. The only circumstances when a driver should look to detain a passenger is when they are carrying out a citizen's arrest and they should only use reasonable force to do so.
“Running off when payment is due at the end of a journey is an offence under Section 3 of the Theft Act 1978 - Making off without payment.
“Refusing to pay at the end of a journey could be an offence under Section 11 of the Fraud Act 2006 - obtaining services dishonestly. However this will depend on the circumstances.
“In circumstances when a passengers card or card reader genuinely does not work and if the passenger provides their details to the driver this would then be a civil matter. If the passenger states that they are unhappy with the service and attempts to negotiate part payment and provides his details the matter would become a civil debt and would not be dealt with by police.
“Some examples of civil disputes that would not be dealt with by the police are
Passenger disputes the fare but makes an offer of payment.
Passenger soils the vehicle agrees to paying the fare but refuses to pay the soiling charge.
Passenger is dissatisfied with the service and refuses to pay the fare but provides their name and address and then leaves the scene.
Passenger has disputed the fare but makes an offer of payment which is refused by the driver, but provides their name and address and then leaves the scene.
“I hope this helps to answer some of the queries raised in Steve Kenton's email. I will continue to engage with Taxi and Private Hire Industry and put measures in place to refresh officers knowledge around these offences in the MPS if it is appropriate to do so.”
Jas Sandhu went on to say that he assured TaxiPoint that he will endeavour to pursue any issues surrounding the offence of bilking and the policing of it.
It must be be recognised that although our point of contact is via the GLA and the Metropolitan Police, these points raised do apply nationwide and across all local authorities.