Warning issued after Cheltenham woman says she unknowingly got into a fake taxi in the city centre

A warning has been issued to taxi and private hire users after a woman claimed, via social media, to have been driven home by a fake taxi driver.

A Facebook post by the woman said she had jumped into what she believed was a licensed taxi, but soon became suspicious when she noticed that the driver wasn't using a sat nav for directions. 

The woman claims to have confronted the man, who admitted he was not a genuine taxi driver.

Despite finding out she was being driven by an unlicensed driver, she said in her post that she managed to persuade him to carry on with the journey to her home and not go to his. 

She then alleged that he acted inappropriately once outside her home and offered to come inside her house. 

(Image: Facebook)

The woman said she was able to quickly rush into her home and lock the door behind herself, before reporting the incident to the police. 

The Cheltenham Guardians picked up on the Facebook post and issued their own warning to any taxi and private hire users and outlined guidance on what to look for when choosing to use either service. 

Terry Howard, Operations Director, Cheltenham Guardians, said via their Facebook page: "I have been made aware of this and one further complaint. 

"I will be speaking with the licensing officer at Cheltenham Borough Council and the police in order to ensure that a) the authorities are aware of these incidents and b) these incidents are being investigated fully. 

"Further, I will be following these through and will be committing resources to these cases going forward."

(Image: Facebook)

Here is a detailed list of what to look for when considering a taxi or private hire vehicle, courtesy of the Cheltenham Guardians; 

HACKNEY CARRIAGE vehicles can be found at the ranks around Cheltenham and they can be hailed in the street. These vehicles have a roof light with the word TAXI on them. PRIVATE HIRE vehicles (or minicabs) are public transport vehicles. However, a private hire vehicle cannot ply for hire or stand in a rank. It must be pre-booked with a private hire operator e.g. through the operator usually by telephone. A licensed vehicle will display a licence plate on the rear of the vehicle and a licensed driver will wear an identity badge (or will display one) which will show the driver’s licence number and licensing authority details. 

These licence plates are coloured green (Cheltenham Hackney carriage), yellow (Cheltenham private hire) and blue (Tewkesbury private hire). Ask for a CHELTENHAM registered driver when booking. - Always use a licensed hackney carriage or a licensed private hire vehicle.

- Book your private hire journey by phone or in a taxi office.

- Never approach or accept a journey from a private hire driver off the street. Only taxis (hackney carriages) are allowed to pick up customers off the street.

- When your booked private hire arrives, make sure the driver can confirm your name and your destination. Check this before you get in the vehicle.

- Take a picture of the driver's licence plates (both the taxi licence and the vehicle registration - you'll be able to get these in the one picture) and WhatsApp (or similar) the picture to a friend, family or even Cheltenham Guardians on 07473 231741. 

A driver will not mind you doing this for your own peace of mind. If he/she does challenge you, refuse to travel with them.

- Check the driver's photo ID.

- Always sit in the back behind the driver and if possible carry a mobile phone.

- When you're on the way, phone a friend if you're worried. If you're seriously concerned or you feel threatened by the driver, phone 999 immediately.

- If you feel uncomfortable ask the driver to stop and get out. 

- Never share a taxi with a stranger.

- If you are drunk and on your own consider calling a family member and ask them to pick you up.

- Weigh up your situation to the best of your ability. If you are in any doubt call a friend or a family member for advice. 

You can also call Cheltenham Guardians on 07473 231741 on any night (up until midnight) or Saturday night / Sunday morning (until 7am) for advice. 

Image: Source; Pixabay

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