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Spike in taxi BILKING sparks warning from licensing authority to collect fares in advance

Updated: Jan 27, 2022



Licensing officers at North East Lincolnshire Council have issued a warning to those using taxis after a spike in reported incidents of passengers not paying their fare.


The reports, which have come from drivers across North East Lincolnshire, have prompted the Council’s licensing team to advise more drivers to ask for their fee upfront.

Drivers are entitled to request the fee upfront but many choose not to, instead charging their passengers once they arrive at their destination.


It is a criminal offence to leave a vehicle and make off without paying the necessary fare.


Taxi drivers opting to charge customers upfront are still required to display a meter and any outstanding balance should be paid to the driver or back to the passenger as appropriate.

IS IT A CRIMINAL OFFENCE TO FAIL TO PAY THE FARE?


In an exclusive piece written for TaxiPoint, PC Patrick Quinton outlined the law surrounding bilking.


There are 3 pieces of law that cover this:


  1. When someone runs off - Section 3 Theft Act 1978 “a person who, knowing that payment on the spot for any good supplied or a service received is required or expected from him, dishonestly makes off without having paid as required or expected and with intent to avoid payment of the amount due shall be guilty of an offence”

  2. If someone pretends they will pay “going to a cash machine” “my friend will pay when we get there” – Section 2 Fraud Act 2006 “if he dishonestly makes a false representation, and intends by making the false representation to... cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss” ~ note that a representation is false if a person knows it is, or might be, untrue or misleading

  3. When someone else is involved, orders a cab for someone else – Section 11 Fraud Act 2006 “if he obtains services for himself or another by a dishonest act... intends that payment will not be made, or will not be made in full”.


The common theme is that there has to be intent and dishonesty. Genuine mistakes or misunderstandings are not dishonest, such as confusion over who is paying.


Dissatisfaction with service or a disagreement about the price may mean it’s not a crime. It only covers the fare, so any extras such as soiling charges aren’t covered. At Court it has to be proved that they were dishonest beyond reasonable doubt and that they intended to avoid payment.


No dishonesty = no crime.

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