Rise of Uber has made safeguarding taxi passengers 'more complex'

The rise of Uber has made the issue of safeguarding taxi passengers "even more complex”, a meeting of councillors from across West Yorkshire has been told.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 4:58 pm
The taxi industry was deregulated in 2015.

Derek Benn, manager of the Calderdale Community Safety Partnership, said that regulating the industry was “complicated”, because of different licensing rules in various parts of the region.

The issue was discussed at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, at which one Leeds councillor expressed concern about the numbers of serious sexual offences taking place in taxis and Leeds.

Quoting those figures Councillor Amanda Carter said they were "absolutely frightening".

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She added: "In Leeds, councillors and MPs have been prohibited from giving references for taxi drivers.

"But what are we doing to protect the vulnerability of young women?"

In response, Mr Benn said that Calderdale was pro-active in handling public safety issues, but stressed that most taxi drivers are law-abiding citizens.

He added: "This is a complex area, made even more complex by the emergence of Uber.

"Every district does things slightly differently so it's sometimes difficult to get synergy across districts.

"What I do know is that from my general experience, should we have any information that suggests that the travelling publlic are at risk, from for example, a taxi driver, positive action is taken.

"I do have to say though that though that the number of taxi drivers is very high. The vast majority are very decent and reliable drivers.

"It's a very complicated issue and one that does attract a lot of attention."

Uber was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Councils across the region are in the process of trying to make their licensing rules for taxi drivers more similar, in a bid to avoid discrepancies.

And local authorities will soon have access to a national database of cabbies who've either been stripped of their licence or denied one.

It follows concerns that the government's deregulation of the industry, in 2015, has caused problems, with cabbies able to operate anywhere in the country provided they have a licence from just one authority.