Stepping up taxi safety in Leeds in time for Christmas

Leeds, Leeds Star

Revellers travelling around Leeds this Christmas can feel more secure using taxis and private hire vehicles, thanks to additional security measures introduced by Leeds City Council this month.

The council’s taxi and private hire enforcement team are extending their enforcement capabilities to use extra CCTV surveillance networks to monitor the activity of the taxi and private hire trades operating in Leeds all year round.

This additional use of CCTV will enable the team to monitor traffic congestion caused by taxis and private hire vehicles and unlawful parking as well as illegal plying for hire. Where necessary officers will also be able to use the footage gained to gather evidence of non-compliance and unlawful activity to ensure appropriate action can be taken, including prosecution through the courts.

This initiative will be used in conjunction with the normal high visibility patrols in and around the city centre, especially at locations where there is a high demand for taxi and private hire services.

Councillor James Lewis executive member for strategy and resources, said:

“There has been increased concern for public safety due to severe traffic congestion and unlawful parking as well as plying for hire activity at a number of locations, aggravated more recently with a sharp rise in the number of licensed vehicles from outside the Leeds area who are operating within the city.

“These additional security measures will complement our existing enforcement capabilities and will enable remote monitoring at a number of different locations in a short period of time without the need for officers to be physically present on the streets.

“Not only will this provide additional peace of mind for taxi users but also those licence holders who are operating within the law can be confident we are working hard to rid the city of those who aren’t.”

In addition to the safety measures provided by Leeds City Council it is also important that those travelling in taxis and private hire take responsibility for their own safety by remembering a few simple facts:

  • Taxis (officially called Hackney Carriages) can be hailed in the street or found at taxi ranks. Leeds’ taxis have black and white colouring with white oval door licence stickers, and some have full body advertising with a white square rear licence plate. All taxis have an illuminated ‘taxi’ sign on the roof.
  • Private hire vehicles cannot be hailed in the street – they must be pre-booked with an operator, otherwise they are not insured and no record of the journey is kept. Leeds’ Private Hire Vehicles have red square door licence stickers.
  • The driver must have an ID badge on display.
  • All licensed vehicles must have an official Leeds City Council licence plate on the back and in the front windscreen.
  • They must also have official licensing stickers on both front doors and front and rear screens.
  • Cars cruising the street looking for customers are illegal and will be uninsured to take paying passengers.
  • Do not to give any personal details to the driver.
  • If you feel threatened ask the driver to stop in a busy area and get out of the car. If the driver refuses to stop call the police from your mobile and try to alert other drivers and pedestrians by waving and shouting out of the car.

Councillor Brian Selby chair of the licensing committee said:

“With the influx of revellers visiting the city wanting to take advantage of the great nightlife here, we want to make sure their time in Leeds is as worry-free as possible.

“Whilst we take every effort to keep taxi users safe with our security and enforcement measures, it is important that they do take responsibility for their own safety. It is important to remember that getting into an unlicensed taxi or private hire vehicle, is just like letting a complete stranger take you home – there are none of the safeguards that properly licensed drivers must adhere to.”

Leeds City Council’s taxi and private hire licensing team is responsible for making sure that drivers, vehicles and operators meet the terms of their licence and that the trade in Leeds is operated in a professional manner. People can report any complaints or concerns about the taxi and private hire trade to the Taxi and Private Hire licensing section on 0113 3781570 or by emailing taxiprivatehire.licensing@leeds.gov.uk.