On Saturday August 12th 2017 Tim Fenton made some astonishing revelations in Zelostreet surrounding Uber, revelations that may well have directly contributed to the sexual assault of one of its customers. These revelations have been made possible due to the intensive work of the taxi industry in making a raft of Freedom Of Information Act requests to both Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police as well as an e-mail expressing concerns from Neil Billany, head of the Metropolitan Police Taxi and Private Hire Unit to Transport for London.
You can read the full article here.
It has been revealed that Uber drivers were involved in an incredible 79 out of 128 offences during a 4 week period between June and July, that equates to a whopping 61.7% of all private hire offences during that period, a statistic made all the more unbelievable given that Uber drivers make up around 30% of the entire private hire workforce.
Unsurprisingly it seems that Uber, despite being fully aware of serious criminal activity have been lackadaisical in reporting incidents to the police. Also unsurprisingly it has been revealed that those offences that are reported have been cherry-picked so as to show Ubers reputation in a less negative light with the more serious offences brushed under the carpet. Neil Billany expressed major concern that the delaying or non-reporting of incidents also exacerbated some extremely serious situations which put the public at considerable risk.
Some of the offences that Uber have failed to report to the police are truly frightening, they include a firearms offence, in which an Uber driver tried to attack another driver with a pepper spray as well as more worryingly 2 sexual asaaults from the same driver, where the first victim informed Uber, under the impression that they would also inform the police. Uber allowed the driver to remain on the platform after the driver refuted the first attack and only informed TfL who then subsequently told the police of the incident. Sadly the perpetrator committed a second sexual assault. According to Neil Billany the second assault would not have taken place had Uber reported the incident to the police in the first place.
Neil Billany has stated that there have been 6 sexual assaults, 2 public order offences and an assault that have only come to light because TfL reported the incidents in 2016. The Complaints were released to Caroline Pidgeon Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Comittee who stated that the failure to report crimes was shameful. Uber have stated that it had a good relationship with the Metropolitan Police and was surprised by the complaints......Here, however is the truly unbelievable part. Uber state that it believes the choice of whether or not to make a police report should sit with the victim......I shall repeat the last sentence.....THE CHOICE OF WHETHER OR NOT TO MAKE A POLICE REPORT SHOULD SIT WITH THE VICTIM.
Ubers comment not only beggars believe on every level but it could also directly hinder any investigation or lead to more victims. It seems that Uber are quite happy to play fast and loose with public safety. What they are effectively saying is this.....they will bare no responsibility for the people that they partner with. This has already been demonstrated on numerous occasions by Uber, after almost every major incident involving one of their drivers the usual diatribe that spews from an Uber spokesperson is "this person is an Uber driver but he or she wasn't on the platform at the time the crime was committed ", they will absolve themselves of all responsibility should you become a victim AND they will not inform the police upon any attack or incident being reported to the police unless the victim reports the incident first. This therefore means that by default they could be directly obstructing a possible investigation by delaying reporting any given incident regardless of whether the victim has reported it.....as well as causing consequential crimes against other potential victims.
So in short we have deliberate crime figure and severity manipulation, a failure to report SERIOUS criminal activity and a devolvement of responsibility. This therefore begs the question as to whether uber will have their license revoked The short answer is no, the problem here is they havent necessarily committed a criminal offence, nor have they necessarily breached their licensing conditions. What they have done is unprofessional, immoral, wholly unacceptable and quite frankly a disgrace BUT there is nothing within their licensing conditions that I can find that would negate their license. It could be argued that they aren't "fit and proper" but that is highly subjective. There needs to be a specific breach which will probably fall around the operating procedures of the 1998 PHV act.
So not only do we now know that Uber not only has an appalling record surrounding the criminal activity of some of their drivers but it also seems that they care more about their reputation than the victims of those crimes.