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Oct 20

More questions than answers???

As we reported on Sunday, John Mason Director of TPH attended a Question & Answer session at the taxi feeder park at Heathrow Airport on Friday 15th October.

Mr. Mason in the feeder park canteen last week.

During the session Mr Mason was asked a multitude of questions by members of the UCG, and other drivers.

One particular question asked was whether in his opinion the recent explosion of satellite offices has contributed to the 54% rise in sexual assaults including rape over the past year?

Mr Mason claimed that statistics supplied to him by the Metropolitan Police show that the vast majority of sexual assaults were carried out by illegal minicab drivers.

When asked if a copy of these statistics are available to the trade he replied “Yes they are”.

As we understand it, Peter Rose of Unite the Union recently requested a copy of these stats from the Metropolitan Police and was denied them.

Yesterday I emailed Mr Mason requesting a copy of the statistics.

Below is a copy of the email exchanges.

Hi John,

You may remember, I asked you a question at the feeder park on Friday, the question was…

Do you think that the recent 54% increase in sexual assaults in minicabs is a direct result of the recent boom in satellite booking offices?

You responded that you had seen statistics to show that the vast majority of the sexual assaults were carried out by illegal minicabs.

You advised me that these statistics were available for me to view, therefore I would like to request a copy of those statistics you were referring to. Please could you email me any documentation you have?

I assume that these statistics are divided into 3 sections, ie Taxi’s, Licensed PH, & Illegal Minicabs?

Thank you in advance for your help with this matter,

Regards,

Lee

Lee

I am sorry, I was mistaken.

I have previously seen some information but this is information held by the Police for which I do not have authority to release.

I’m sorry but you would need to do a Freedom Of Information request to the Met Police if you wanted release for such data but I am pretty sure it says what I indicated, that the majority of reported offences are committed by unlicensed minicabs.

Unfortunately the Police do not record offences in way that enables a full breakdown as I implied might be available. What is reported as “cab-related” sexual offence figures include offences committed by unlicensed drivers, licensed taxi and minicab drivers and licensed drivers touting illegally.

The MPS is currently unable to provide a definitive breakdown by type of “vehicle” involved (licensed /unlicensed taxi / minicab) for reporting purposes but this is something that I will be urging them to improve although a lot relies on the description provided by the person making the allegation.

However, despite the above, there is no evidence to suggest that increase in sexual assaults in minicabs is a direct result of the recent boom in satellite booking offices.

John Mason
Director – Taxi & Private Hire

John

Thanks for your reply.

Sorry but I am a little confused, first you state you have seen statistics provided to you by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) that support your claim that the majority of sexual assaults are carried out by illegal minicab drivers, then you appear to contradict yourself when you state that the MPS does not distinguish between Taxi’s and minicabs when keeping record of these incidents, which is correct?

It concerns me that the recent increase in sexual assaults (up 54%) are often mis-reported by some media outlets as taxi related offences, if as I suspect the number of complaints against licensed taxi drivers are minimal, then the figures being reported are grossly unfair and misleading and could easily be misunderstood, as has been the case recently with the BBC reporting the increase in sexual assaults as ‘London cabs’.

When the BBC were contacted regarding this issue they responded by saying that the figures they had been given included Licensed London Taxi’s, so in their eyes they were justified in reporting the story in the manner they have.

As I’m sure you will understand, we would like to view the statistics to see what percentage of complaints were made against Taxi drivers, we could then provide the media and public with figures that are a true reflection of the dangers of getting into an unbooked minicab.

Surely by lumping all of the figures together, ie mini-cabs (licensed/ unlicensed) and Taxi’s is unfairly tarnishing the excellent reputation of Licensed Taxi’s.

I am pleased to hear that you are putting pressure on the MPS to accurately record sexual assaults that are ‘cab related’ and would like to ask if there is any way the Licensed Taxi trade could assist in highlighting your plight?

I’m sure an investigating Police officer wouldn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to pose the most obvious questions to a victim of sexual assault of ‘what type of vehicle the assailant
was driving?.

I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of victims are able to distinguish between a London Taxi and a private car?

Some might say that the figures are being deliberately merged in an attempt to hide the serious lack of enforcement we witness in London, and to attempt to disguise the fact that a monster was created when satellite offices were introduced.

John, as director of Taxi’s & Private Hire (TPH) are you not concerned and dismayed that such a huge increase in sexual assaults (54%) has occured under your directorship and on what some would describe as ‘your watch?.

You claim there is nothing to suggest that the increase has any link to the massive boom in satellite offices, however surely this is not just coincidence.

What other factors do you believe are responsible for the rise?

I will indeed take your advise and send a FOI request to the MPS asking for the statistics you say you have been shown.

I will also ask my MP to support me in my quest for this information. I will also seek the support of my colleagues in the UCG and anyone else that shares my views and suggest that they lobby their MP’s too.

One other point, if the statistics show that the majority of assaults are committed by illegal minicab drivers, does this not further prove there is insufficient enforcement on the streets with regards to illegal touting?

I look forward to your views on the points I have raised,

Regards,

Lee

Lee

I’m sorry if it appears to be a contradiction. As I said, I have seen a report which breaks it down but this isn’t how the Met formally report the statistics, hence the need for an FOI to the Met if you wish to obtain a more detailed breakdown.

However, I do agree that the current way of reporting could be improved and I will be pursuing this issue for any future statistics released.

I understand and share the frustration that taxi drivers feel when media outlets such as the BBC misreport such information and so it is important that we work with the Met to try to get the information reported in a clearer way.

There are many reasons for the increase in reported crimes, not least the significant publicity we now have in place to report such crimes where as previously such crimes may not have been linked to licensed / unlicensed taxi/minicab activity as well as the very fact we are focusing our efforts to a much greater degree in this area than before.

We are, of course, concerned at any increase in the number of reported crimes and will continue to work hard to address this problem.

The data recently reported related to the whole of 2009 of which I was Director for 3 months but regardless of this fact, I do take my responsibilities in this respect very seriously.

Kind regards

John Mason
Director – Taxi & Private Hire

The UCG says…

We have sent a request to the Met Police to obtain these stats under the Freedom Of Information act, if and when we do receive them we shall post them here.

WE are still unsure as to why these stats are recorded separately, and then reported as one?

Is this a deliberate ploy to damage the Taxi trade’s excellent reputation?

We feel this is totally unacceptable and will be campaigning to have them recorded and reported seperately.

If this means demonstrations outside Scotland Yard then so be it.

TfL might think it’s OK to merge us with Private Hire, but we certainly do not.

They have created a monster in Satellite offices that is out of control, and we certainly are not going to let them hide their failings behind the ‘Worlds best Taxi service’.

There might not be any direct ‘evidence’ to prove that Satellite Offices are responsible for the explosion in sexual attacks, but that doesn’t mean they are not!

To suggest that the increase is due to more crimes being reported is lame.

More crimes are being reported because more crimes are being committed.

And more crimes are being committed because more Satellite Office licenses are being issued.

They are nothing more than ‘rape shops’, as 143 victims will testify!

None of which we would hazard a guess are relatives of Boris Johnson, Peter Hendy, Chief Inspector Brown or John Mason.

With only 68 enforcement officers to cover 24,000 Taxis and 70,000 minicabs… Is it any wonder!

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