Updated: Aug 20
Decades of cooperation between London's taxi drivers and the police force could be on course to hit a new low as their working relationship becomes increasingly strained.
Before Transport for London (TfL) assumed regulatory control over the city's black cabs, the Metropolitan Police oversaw the Public Carriage Office and the licensing of black cabs in the capital. The large number of taxis operating in London meant that they were often seen as an additional set of eyes on the streets, assisting in witnessing incidents and intervening when necessary. However, the nature of this relationship is evolving due to heightened enforcement targeting motorists, and in particular, the taxi industry.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set an ambitious target of issuing one million speeding fines in just one year, accompanied by a reduction in speed limits to just 20mph on many roads. This has resulted in many taxi drivers falling foul of slight violations over the 20mph limit and being targeted for seatbelt offences.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), recently expressed concern about the impact of the Metropolitan Police's actions on the taxi industry. McNamara criticised the priorities of Commissioner of Police, Sir Mark Rowley, and the Mayor, questioning their focus on mobile phone security while numerous incidents of distraction thefts, muggings, and other crimes are occurring daily on London's streets.
McNamara noted: "The best that the Commissioner of Police and the Mayor can do is issue press releases calling for the mobile phone industry to do more, despite the urgent need to address crime and make our streets safer. It is no surprise that the Met Police was placed under special measures last year following a report from Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, concerning concerns over the force's priorities."
Furthermore, McNamara highlighted that Commissioner Rowley's appointment came with the expectation of delivering on the public's priorities of tackling crime and ensuring safer streets. However, he alleges that the focus seems to have shifted towards pandering to the Mayor's policing priorities, including the target of issuing one million speeding fines annually.
McNamara added: “We are still handling record numbers of cases for members caught by new lower speed limits and other changes. As you can see in the image of a Policeman hiding ready to spring out at any moment and catch an unsuspecting cabbie (front cover image of TAXI Newspaper), they really are out to get drivers, and so you need to be more careful than ever out there.”