• Know the difference between a black cab and a minicab.
Taxis may all look the same when you’ve had a few glasses of wine, but there are some very important differences. In fact the only types of taxis that are legally allowed to stop when
hailed in the street are black cabs.
All legitimate black cabs are licensed by the local authorities (or in London by the police) and have a white licence plate on the boot and a smaller one inside. Other taxis are called minicabs.
Outside London all legitimate minicabs are now licensed with local authorities. In London, this process is still underway but they should soon all be licensed with Transport for London. If you want to check that the minicab firm you use is licensed you should check with your local council or, if you live in the capital, Transport for London.
• Beware taxi touts.
In addition to black cabs and minicabs there are an increasing number of ‘taxi touts’ operating around Britain, particularly late at night. These are unregistered, untraceable drivers who attempt to pick up fares in busy areas, often offering cheaper fares than registered vehicles.
The police warn that these cabs are being used by some criminals to target vulnerable women and should always be avoided. ‘When people get into these cabs they are effectively getting into a stranger’s car which is untraceable,’ says a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police.
‘We know that some men are deliberately using these cabs to target and then sexually abuse women. If this happens there is often no way of tracing the offender as they are not registered taxi drivers, may have borrowed the car for the night or even changed the number plates. Women particularly should never get into these cabs.’ Get in a Taxi in Leyland as they are trustworthy and registered.
• If using a minicab always pre-book it.
Although legitimate minicabs are now licensed they are only legally allowed to carry passengers who book them in advance. If you intend to take a minicab, take the phone number of a reputable firm you know and trust with you when you go out for the night.
If you don’t know the number of a reputable firm ask a friend for the number of a firm they trust, or approach the Community Safety Officer at your local police station for a number.
• Be cautious if you are ordering a cab in a public place.
Always remember if you are calling a cab from a public place to make sure that you can not be overheard by strangers as this could give away your address. To be extra secure, when you are ordering a cab to pick you up from a public place do not give your full name and full address – just in case someone can hear you.