Touting and associated dangers

While London is safe for most people travelling at night, there are major concerns over the dangers of travelling in unbooked minicabs (also known as illegal cabs and touts) picked up off the street.

All minicabs must be licensed by TfL and must be booked in advance. Any minicab that isn’t booked by phone, email or in a licensed minicab office is illegal and unsafe.

Sometimes touts are aggressive and intimidating to members of the public and law-abiding taxi and private hire drivers. This is an extremely serious matter to us and we are working closely with the police to deter and detect offenders, and bring them to justice.

We emphasise throughout our online and print publications that it’s important for Londoners and visitors not to approach or accept a journey from a minicab driver off the street, even if the driver or vehicle is licensed by TfL.

Enforcement activities

Our efforts to tackle touting and cab-related offences – undertaken with the police and other agencies – include industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education.

Safer Travel at Night

Many of our activities come under the Mayor’s Safer Travel at Night initiative. This encourages the use of legal cabs, including licensed taxis (black cabs) and licensed and booked private hire vehicles (including minicabs), as well as other legitimate public transport services.

Working with the police

We are working closely with the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police to tackle touting and unlawful plying for hire. We fund 68 dedicated cab enforcement officers in these organisations.

We are responsible for taxi and private hire licensing, ensuring that licensees comply with legislation to maintain high standards of safety for the public. This work involves regular visits to licensed operators, on-street vehicle inspections and participating in joint operations with the police.

Cab Enforcement Unit

The Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC) has a dedicated Cab Enforcement Unit which is responsible for enforcing the law relating to taxis and private hire vehicles in London.

It tackles touting and other cab-related offences in a number of ways. These include covert and high visibility operations across London which aim to detect, disrupt and deter touts.

The Cab Enforcement Unit works closely with the Safer Transport Teams and local borough police on joint operations to tackle touting through detection and deterrence activities.

Enforcement measures

Activities include:

  • Ongoing covert and high-visibility anti-touting operations
  • STC investigating prolific touts and confiscating their assets
  • Safer Transport Teams focusing on illegal cabs across London
  • The Safer Travel at Night campaign is continuing to raise awareness of the dangers of unbooked minicabs and providing the public with better access to safe travel options
  • Placing windscreen stickers on vehicles when the driver has been arrested for touting, reminding other drivers of the consequences of breaking the law
  • Deploying late night enforcement officers on a regular basis to carry out compliance activity and support joint operations with the police

Reporting touting and illegal cab activity

Licensed and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers and other members of the public often have valuable information on touting and other cab-related offences across London.

Let us know if you have information. Such information is valuable in helping our Safer Transport Command tackle the problem.

What is touting?

  • Any private hire vehicle that isn’t booked, isn’t legal and isn’t safe
  • Only taxis (black cabs) can be hailed and can pick up customers on the street without a booking
  • If a private hire or minicab driver approaches you on the street or accepts your journey without a booking it is illegal, even if the driver is licensed by TfL

Drivers that tout are committing a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Drivers arrested and charged with touting are also charged with having no valid insurance (for carrying passengers).

Taxi driver identifiers

All taxi drivers are required to display driver identifiers when plying for hire as a condition of licence.

If you witness a driver not displaying their identifiers, displaying the wrong identifiers or you suspect displaying fake identifiers, or who may be plying for hire outside of their licence area, report this to us.

Revoked licenses for convicted drivers

Drivers convicted for touting will have their private hire licence revoked. An individual who is cautioned for touting will also have their licence revoked, although we are not allowed to publish these names.

Info courtesy of The TFL