by BEN TAYLOR, Daily Mail,2003
A judge issued an alarming warning to minicab passengers yesterday that they cannot expect to travel in safety.
Jailing an asylum seeker for eight years for raping a secretary, Recorder Michael Sayers, QC, said those hiring a private taxi simply had no way of knowing the driver’s background.
He called for compulsory licensing of all cab drivers after police checks on the firm where the rapist worked revealed that not one driver was being legally employed.
“It appears that nobody can travel in minicabs with any degree of assurance or safety, as demonstrated by the facts in this case,” said the judge.
“At the moment, when a member of the public takes a cab he has no assurance that the driver is who he claims to be or has got any insurance or driving licence. He has no way of knowing how the driver conducts his business.
“This is something that should be investigated. If minicab drivers are driving around with false identities, it is something that should be looked into and investigated properly. I find it quite a worrying state of affairs.”
The case has highlighted a growing problem in our cities, where a burgeoning nightclub culture and lack of public transport has led to a boom in the use of minicabs.
These are separate from licensed black cabs and are supposed to be booked in advance over the telephone or in person at a central office.
There are around 100,000 private hire drivers in the UK. Powers to license them have been on the statute book since 1998 but the law’s enforcement depends heavily on the policy of the local authority.
In London, men and women desperate to get home have resorted to hailing unlicensed “taxi touts” who ply for trade by driving through the city’s entertainment areas.
Police figures show that 214 women were sexually assaulted in the capital last year after getting into illegal minicabs and 54 raped.
Razaq Assadullah, 31, who worked for Speedline Cars in Stratford, East London, was an asylum seeker who came to Britain from Afghanistan in 2000.
He was convicted last December
of raping the 28-year-old secretary and was sentenced at the Old Bailey yesterday.
In a reference to the rapist’s background, the judge told him: “You were certainly aware of the gravity of the crime of rape as it would be met by a sentence of death by stoning.”
The woman got into the cab after a night out in a wine bar in Stratford last July.
After dropping off her best friend, Assadullah parked the car and turned off the engine before attacking the woman in the back seat. He stopped only when disturbed by two cyclists.
The Old Bailey heard that Assadullah, from Plaistow, East London, set himself up as a cab driver by buying a false driving licence for £200 and using a false name. Police checks revealed he was driving without insurance.
Further inquiries into the rapist’s firm revealed that each of its 32 drivers was working illegally in some way – either through their immigration status or by claiming benefit while working.
The judge told Assadullah: “With a mixture of arrogance and cynical opportunism you abused your position of trust.
“She was placed in your cab by a friend who paid you to get her home safely.
“She was put through a terrifying ordeal and she faced the added trauma of not knowing whether you might be a murderer as well as a rapist.”
Assadullah, a father of three, was granted leave to remain last year after claiming he had been tortured by the Taliban. The judge recommended his deportation.
Detective Constable Malcolm Samuels, of the Metropolitan Police, said that because many minicab drivers work on a self-employed basis there is little incentive for the firm’s owner to check on them.
This case happened back in 2003, eight years on ask yourself as anything changed in the capital.
Ask any licensed Taxis driver in London and I think they will honesty say no, if you look at the figures back then, to these set of figures.
- In the year 2009 140 sexual assaults were reported in “bogus” or unlicensed mini-cabs.
- Of the 140 reported sexual assaults 24 were actual rapes.
- When compared to 2008 figures this represents a rise of 53%
they have dropped but no to a level that you would want to shout from the roof tops, like TFL seem to do at every opportunity as if there boasting in some way that they have made a massive difference.
We have tried to obtain a more up to date Figures but are having trouble.
One rape is too much.
London Taxi & Private Hire (LT&PH) have only 4 compliance officers and 1 manager and 1 senior licensing officer working nights, a total of six, yes six they was spotted last week on Villiers St just off the strand.
On the night in question there was no clubs open it looked like they was playing hide and seek, what their actual job description is we’re not entirely sure.
Now if like Birmingham city council licensing team, they were out doing covert operations to arrest drivers for Plying for Hire.
The touts that we see outside the bars, clubs and restaurants every night in London, might think twice about taking an unbooked job off the street.
Unlike touting if a driver is approached by a member of public and asked to take them home they know they are not at risk as the tout squad cannot make an arrest of a tout in that way, because that is deemed as entrapment they can only nick someone for touting if the officer is touted.
BUT they can nick a Private Hire Driver for Plying for Hire!