Updated: Dec 5, 2019
A new hard-hitting safety campaign has been launched in Glasgow highlighting the dangers of getting into an illegal non pre-booked private hire vehicle.
The campaign is asking the public to ‘Know what you are getting into’ ahead of the busy Christmas period in the Scottish city.
Licensed taxis are the only vehicle able to pick the public up off the streets without a booking. Private hire or minicab vehicles are able to take people to their destinations ONLY if it is pre-booked via an operator.
Taking a private hire vehicle or another unlicensed vehicle without a booking is illegal and will be uninsured.
The advert, funded by taxi drivers at Unite Glasgow Cab Section, shows the dangers of taking an unlicensed vehicle. The final message says, “If it’s not a licensed taxi or a pre-booked privet hire, it’s just a stranger’s car”.
According to a spokesperson at Unite, Glasgow City Council have been very supportive in trying to tackle the growing issue surrounding dangerous vehicles ‘pirating’ or illegally plying-for-hire in the city centre. However, they say more could be done by Police Scotland and the Crown Office.
Calum Anderson, Chairman of Unite Glasgow Cab Section, told TaxiPoint: “For 18 months I’ve campaigned for parity with the rest of the UK, where those caught pirating get charged for no insurance.
“Police Scotland say there’s no point charging anyone as the Crown Office won’t prosecute, the Crown Office say they can’t prosecute if the police won’t charge, and so we go round and round.
“This video is designed to try and raise public awareness of the dangers, and hopefully put pressure to the authorities.”
Police Scotland‘s Supt Mark Sutherland said in response: "The use of an illegal taxi has obvious safety risks as well as having a detrimental impact on those taxis operating legitimately.
"Police Scotland Greater Glasgow Division works closely with Glasgow City Council Taxi Enforcement to target persons who are operating as taxi drivers outwith the terms of their license. A number of joint pro-active operations have been carried out and further operations have been planned for the future. A test case has been submitted to COPFS regarding a taxi driver operating outwith the terms of their insurance and the outcome is awaited.
"Police Scotland would encourage members of the public people to contact us if they have witnessed illegal taxi touting or have any other information relating to illegal taxis. The public should be aware of the risks of using an illegal taxi, which may include drivers that have not been approved to be a fit and proper person to hold a license and vehicles that may not be covered by insurance. All properly licensed taxis will have taxi plates on the front and rear of the vehicle, displaying the make, model, registration number and taxi license number.”
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council also commented by saying: “Any private hire driver plying for hire is acting out-with the terms of their licence and is putting passengers at risk.
“Any passenger who uses a private hire vehicle without pre-booking will be uninsured and there will be no record of their journey should anything go wrong.
“We strongly advise passengers to avoid hiring cars on this basis and drivers should be aware of that our taxi enforcement team is routinely active across the city.
“Our Licensing Committee will always take appropriate action where there is evidence of private hire drivers plying for hire.”
Police Scotland’s Chief Inspector Hazel Scott highlighted the dangers to the wider public outside of Glasgow, asking passengers to ‘consider their journeys carefully’.
Chief Inspector Hazel Scott told TaxiPoint: “The use of an illegal taxi has safety issues, including drivers not having been vetted, potentially invalid insurance, as well as having an impact on those operating as a legitimate business. Police Scotland continues to work in partnership with Local Authority licensing departments.
"People should consider their journeys carefully. Using licensed taxi companies, employing drivers who are vetted to ensure they are fit and proper to convey the public, can help keep you safe. A licensed taxi will have the vehicle make and model, registration and license number clearly displayed.
"We would ask anyone with information on illegal taxis to report it to Police Scotland on 101 or report it anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111".