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Bilking a taxi fare; is it a crime or a civil dispute?

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Image credit: Ross Campbell

Bilking a taxi fare; is it a crime or a civil dispute?

According to West Midlands Police if a passenger in the vehicle refuses to pay a taxi fare and is trying to leave the cab without paying then this is theft and should be reported by calling 999.

Officers do however state that cabbies should never put themselves in danger trying to stop passengers leaving the vehicle. Cab drivers are urged to always stay in the taxi where they can call for help if an incident takes place.

For the cabbies experiencing a fleet footed runner, what should they do if someone runs off without parting with the hard-earned cash owing to them? According to the officers at West Midlands Police (WMP) cabbies should first direct themselves online to report the incident. Many other police forces around the UK will have similar avenues to report ‘bilkers’, along with Live Chat facilities. If the cab driver can’t make the report using the online options call police direct on 101.

WMP goes on to add via their website: “If you ever feel unsafe or unsure about taking a job, refuse it. But please be mindful that it is an offence for a licensed driver to refuse to take a journey without a reasonable excuse. The fact the customer is drunk or the route distance is too short is not an excuse.

“You may wish to consider asking for payment before starting the journey.”

The WMP advice goes on to explain when a disagreement over the fare might become a civil matter. The police say: “If a customer has concerns about the route taken or the cost then this should be raised with the driver or their company. Disputes like this are civil matters and not criminal and therefore not a policing matter.

“The driver and customer must try to settle the dispute, but if not should exchange details and the matter can be raised as a small claims case.

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