Transport for London's compliance officers have a thankless task in keeping Londons 24,300 taxi drivers and 117,000 private hire drivers in check: it's a difficult job on a good day. Thankfully the vast majority of compliance officers are polite, fair, reasonable and in the main do a pretty good job. There are however times when you hear of a story or see video footage of an incident that quite frankly leaves you scratching your head and wondering.
When you get a moment I'd urge you to watch this latest video footage taken from Twitter. It centres around the rights and wrongs of a driver displaying the latest 'Taxi' magazine.
Watch the video here
There are a few questions that need answering regarding the compliance officers actions in this video, the first one being why the driver was being castigated for illegal signage. The magazine was not attached to the vehicles rear screen nor partition. It was simply left in the rear of the cab, probably by the driver for the public to read. This neither constitutes illegal signage nor a dirty cab. The compliance officers actions therefore imply that a driver is responsible for any publication left by the public and on public view in his or her taxi and could constitute illegal signage. We then have the first compliance officer leaning into the taxi to remove the magazine and the second officer asking the driver if it could be removed and kept. The driver allowed this, however the question here is the following, is it legal for any carriage officer to remove ANY item from a taxi and keep it or subsequently destroy it? The short answer is no. The driver was then asked for the laminated notice that he possessed, he rightly refused. One of the most concerning issues however was both of the carriage officers insistence that the headline article about an Uber driver being jailed for 12 years was misleading to the public! It is not part of any compliance officers duty to discuss or judge what may be on the front page of a legitimate news resource, regardless of who it involves, whether that be Uber, TfL or even a taxi driver and whether a taxi or a phv can carry it.
In this instance there seems to have been an overstepping of the mark of sizable proportions. It may be wise for TfL to issue an update on the guidelines to both drivers AND compliance officers as to what constitutes illegal signage as well as issuing updated guidelines as to what compliance officers can and cannot do in relation to the carrying of legitimate news resources in a taxi or PHV.