Police target pirate taxis to protect city's night revellers

BOGUS taxi drivers who tout for business in Glasgow are being targeted by police.

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Taking cabs from unofficial ranks poses a potential danger to travellers, warn police
Taking cabs from unofficial ranks poses a potential danger to travellers, warn police

Police chiefs have flooded the city centre with frontline officers to target "hotspots" for pirate taxis plying their trade.

Today police warned that revellers are putting themselves in danger by getting into a pirate taxi after a night out.

One of the city centre's illegal taxi ranks is outside the King's Theatre.

Other pirate driver tout for trade at the Duke of Wellington statue in Queen Street and outside Corinthian in Ingram Street.

Chief Inspector Alan Porte, said: "It is illegal for a private hire taxi to pick up a passenger that has not actually booked that car.

"Anyone prepared to get into cars on unofficial ranks needs to realise it is not worth the risk."

Deployed late at night, police officers are patrolling busy streets where illegal touting is taking place.

Suspect vehicles will be checked by police and council officials in the "intelligence-led" operation.

It is hoped the action will prevent people putting themselves at risk by getting into unlicensed cars.

Officers from the city council's taxi enforcement unit have joined police on patrols.

Councillor Chris Kelly, chairman of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said: "It may sound like a scare story, but it does happen.

"It's very dangerous and we don't want it happening in Glasgow.

"The council's enforcement unit - working in partnership with Police Scotland - carries out rigorous patrols in the city."

The enforcement unit has the power to stop and search not only local private hire cars, but also taxis from outwith Glasgow, which illegally operate on city streets.

Anyone breaking the rules will be reported to their licensing authority and cars with defects could be taken off the road immediately.

Mr Kelly said: "We have intelligence on 'hotspots' where these people attempt to tout for business.

"We will continue to take robust action to ensure that rogue drivers are not tolerated in Glasgow.

"If we see a private car picking up on the street, or joining a rank, we'll be asking for an explanation.

"We'll also take the opportunity to inspect the vehicle and the driver's credentials."

Police, council and taxi authorities are increasingly concerned about bogus taxis - and have vowed to continue targeting crooks.

Mr Porte, Police Scotland's area commander for the city centre, said: "Our job is to keep people safe.

"And part of the is to also to make sure that, when people get in a taxi or a private hire, the vehicle is safe and the driver is a fit and proper person.

"There is a real safety issue here and by getting in an unlicensed taxi or private hire, you are putting yourself at risk.

"It may well be that the driver of an unlicensed cab has not gone through the proper safety checks."

Senior officers believe a "joined up approach" between police, council officials and taxi drivers, is key to targeting rogue cabbies.

Stephen Flynn, vice-chairman of Glasgow Taxis Ltd, said it was "imperative" pirate vehicles are targeted in order to keep people safe.

He said: "That Police Scotland are investing resources to deter the people behind these vehicles is good news and a policy for which they have our full support.

"Our message to the people of Glasgow and its visitors is not to take a chance and always call and book a licensed, fully traceable Glasgow taxi."

Crime in Glasgow city centre - including serious assaults, robberies, and muggings - has continued to fall.

But police bosses have vowed not be complacent.

Mr Porte added: "I would urge people to use Nite Zone ranks or to only get into a private hire that they have booked themselves.

"And always ask your taxi driver if you can see their ID.

"Police Scotland are committed to disrupting the operations of unofficial taxi or private hires in Glasgow city centre."

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

Automotive

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