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Heathrow Airport faces increase in ‘taxi touts’: Undercover operation leads to arrests

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Image credit: TAXI Newspaper

Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world, has experienced a surge in taxi touting activity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this rise, an undercover police operation was conducted resulting in the arrest and conviction of six touts.

According to Suzanne Sullivan, Airport Representative for the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), an estimated 30 touts were operating at Terminal 4 alone by the end of July this year. Recognising the severity of the issue, the police took action and gathered evidence during the two-day operation, successfully identifying key players involved in touting.

Following their arrests, all six convicted offenders, including two Transport for London (TfL) Private Hire licensed drivers, were disqualified from driving for a period of up to six months. Additionally, the four remaining drivers without insurance or licences had their vehicles confiscated.

Sullivan said in TAXI Newspaper: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of taxi touts operating at the airport since the pandemic. By the end of July this year, it was estimated that up to 30 touts were operating on Terminal 4 alone.

“Undercover police gathered evidence of this increased touting activity in a recent operation, which allowed them to identify key players.

“In a two-day operation, six touts were arrested and subsequently convicted at Uxbridge Magistrates Court. They have all been disqualified from driving for up to six months. Only two of the six were Transport for London (TfL) Private Hire (PH) licensed drivers and the remaining four drivers had no insurance or licences and had their vehicles confiscated.

“The police have reassured us that there will now be intermittent patrols on the terminals to identify touting and they will intercept where necessary and escort them from the terminals. Repeat offenders will be given probation orders and possibly prosecuted if they continue to offend.

“It is very hard to catch and prosecute these touts. The evidence required is difficult to obtain due to the nature of the offence and the unscrupulous tactics these touts regularly use.

“The police have produced a taxi tout information advertisement, which they are hoping HAL (Heathrow Airport Limited) will place in and around terminal arrivals areas as well as on digital billboard displays. The advert informs passengers about the dangers of using a tout and advises them to only use approved licensed taxis

and minicabs. The advert has a QR code that translates into 12 different languages.

“In the meantime, please report ANY tout activity you see or suspect to the tout line via the QR code. It is imperative that

we report touts to the correct authority, otherwise it doesn’t get logged, registered or dealt with. It also helps with continual police tout squad funding from HAL.

“With more reported complaints, will hopefully convince HAL to be more resourceful when it comes to touts in their terminals, and maybe eradicate these tout parasites once and for all.”


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