The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain's (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch has filed a complaint against Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police over what it claims is a discriminatory enforcement regime, which sees a disproportionate number of stops and inspections on BAME drivers.
The union is asking the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to set up an independent review of TfL Taxi and Private Hire enforcement standards and the regulators’ relationship with the police. It is also asking that TfL set up an independent complaints procedure to oversee complaints against TfL compliance officers.
The IWGB said in a statement that for the last 12-month period of data published (April 2018 to March 2019), licensed private hire drivers, the majority of whom are BAME, faced TfL enforcement stops at 3.7 times the rate of black cab drivers, the majority of whom are white British, despite having higher levels of compliance.
Over the same period, licensed private hire drivers were found to be compliant in 92.1% of occasions, compared to 85% for black cab drivers.
The IWGB say that the Metropolitan police are also more likely to stop private hire drivers than black cab drivers despite the former having better compliance rates. Licensed private hire drivers face enforcement stops at 1.49 times the rate of taxi drivers by police officers, despite police figures showing that private hire vehicles are 73.95% compliant compared to 73.55% for taxi vehicles.
The Metropolitan Police Road and Transport Command is almost completely funded by TfL and the Cab Enforcement Unit is largely directed by TfL.
The union also claim that TfL has refused to include IWGB, the largest private hire driver union in London and the UK, in the defined stakeholder programme, reducing communication with drivers and consequently making voluntary compliance more difficult.
In a letter to the Mayor of London, UPHD branch chair James Farrar wrote: “We believe the statistics speak for themselves and illustrate a pattern of abuse and institutional racism from TfL that you must take responsibility to eradicate. To be clear, we are not requesting that private hire drivers and vehicles should be stopped less. Indeed, with the highest compliance rates in the combined trade we are happy to see even more stops. However, we are demanding that stops are carried out proportionally and fairly across the industry.”