The Suzy Lamplugh Trust – a charity that raises awareness of personal safety in the face of violence, stalking and aggression, has long campaigned for better licensing and operating of private hire vehicles (minicabs to you and me).
Every year, hundreds of crimes, including assaults and rapes are linked to illegal and unlicensed mini-cab drivers.
Using a taxi is supposed to give you a degree of protection as vehicles and drivers must meet suitability criteria, including local minimum standards for vehicles and a criminal record and health checks for drivers, before they are licensed by the relevant local authority.
However, even with more stringent measures and enhanced checks on drivers in place, it’s still prudent to make sure you’re safe before embarking on a journey in a minicab. Here’s our top tips for staying safe when booking a minicab.
- Always try to pre-book your taxi in advance with a company you know and trust and have used before
- Tell a family member or friend which company you will be travelling with and what their contact details are.
- Be cautious if you are booking a taxi in a public place. Make sure you cannot be overheard by strangers as this could give away information such as your name or address.
- Ask the company you have booked with to text or tell you the registration number of the taxi, licence plate number or name of the driver they are sending so you know you are getting into the correct car.
- If you have pre-booked a taxi, do not tell the driver your name. Instead, ask him to confirm who he is picking up and the intended destination. If he answers incorrectly, do not get in the car.
- To make sure another customer looking for a taxi outside a busy venue does not get into your pre-booked taxi, give them your name and mobile number when booking. That way, you’ll know he is your correct driver and he will know you’re his passenger.
- The only kind of taxi that is allowed to stop when hailed in the street are Hackney Carriages (black cabs). All legitimate black cabs are licensed by the local authorities and carry identification plates on the boot and inside.
When in the taxi, it’s a good idea to do the following:
- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you go out and has plenty of credit on it.
- Carry your mobile phone in your hand or somewhere easily accessible.
- Make a note of the registration number and/or the driver’s name.
- Sit in the back of the car.
- Have your keys ready for when you arrive home, so you are not left hanging around in the dark. If you trust your driver, ask him not to leave until you are safety in your home.
- Watch where the driver is going. If you are unsure of your surroundings, question them.
- Trust your instincts – if you feel something is not quite right, don’t get in.
- Report any problems you may have faced with the Police. You may help protect future passengers.
Remember, you are putting yourself in the hands of a stranger. Therefore safety is essential. Use these tips to know what to look for and to make sure you are safe.