The authorities need to act decisively to restore confidence in taxi trade

TAXI LAW expert Peter Eatherall has slammed the lack of licence checking in Manchester as another rapist is sent down for crimes committed while posing as a cab driver.

Eatherall, a partner of specialist taxi and criminal legal practice Howards Solicitors, believes more regular enforcement of taxi licensing could reduce the high incidences of violent crime committed by illegitimate taxi drivers.

The recent case of Amine Kacem is the latest of a spate of serious offences by non-licensed taxi drivers. Kacem deliberately put a large yellow sticker on his car to make it look like a private hire vehicle.

He received a 9-year sentence for rape this week after his unsuspecting victim believed that it was safe to accept a ride. Only DNA evidence gathered from an unrelated offence of theft 18 months later led police to Kacem.

Manchester does not have a good record, last year there were 98 bogus cab related rapes and sexual assaults according to Greater Manchester Police. London with a population four times as big suffered 143 by comparison.

RAINN, an anti-rape charity based in the US states that as many as 60% of rapes go unreported.

Les Reid a representative for Manchester based taxi co-operative Mr Black Cab, which runs 70 vehicles, comments: “No-one has checked my badge in over 25 years. We need Manchester’s Licensing Unit to be highly proactive, so that the public feels safe. The horrific cases in the news tarnish the name of all law abiding professional taxi drivers who want to simply offer a great service and make a decent living for their families.”

Peter Eatherall, who ran his own cab firms before transferring his industry knowledge to law comments: “Stricter enforcement of taxi licences is crucial to deterring and reducing serious crime in the taxi trade.”

“The public and trade need to see more visible and proactive activities to drive unlicensed taxi drivers from the roads. More spot checks by enforcement officers from the local authority as well as the police, with the results published and on view, would be a good start to restoring confidence.”

Reid states: “There are 1,000 Hackney cab drivers and 2,000 private hire professionals within the city boundaries, not including Greater Manchester. Anyone of them would gladly help the police to significantly reduce the issue.”

Peter Eatherall