PCO REPLY TO CALL SIGN "TOUTING FIGURES" COMPLAINT
The Public Carriage Office sent out a press
release (Notice) last month that I, as Call Sign
Editor, decided not to publish as a separate entity. It
contained a list of figures that you have probably now seen in
other trade magazines that saw no problem with it. That is their
prerogative and I offer no criticism on their decision to
publish. It contained first-half year PCO figures on those from
the taxi and private hire sections of the trade who had been
"convicted" of touting and other associated matters. Call
Sign has no problem with those caught touting being
pulled up. It is against the rules and as such, we should not do
However, I took offence that the figures gave a total "convicted" figure of 1095 but which also made it clear that this was a figure made up from holders of both taxi and private hire licenses. I had no way of knowing, but felt that the taxi percentage must have been much lower that that of the private hire figure and felt aggrieved that we should be lumped together.
I later heard from DaC Chairman Brian Rice that he too was sent a copy of the PCO press release and he wanted to show them to DaC drivers and to also make it clear that he felt the figures could be deceiving. He wrote in last month’s Reflections of the Chairman:
"Earlier this month, the PCO released figures regarding ‘Touting and Associated Matters’ for the period January 2004 to July 2006. They make shocking reading, but it is the tip of the iceberg because as we all know, hundreds of misdemeanours are committed every weekend. However, my biggest concern regarding the figures is that they apply to holders of Private Hire or Taxi Driver licences, so it would appear that the authorities have included any misdemeanours
Brian Rice and Roy Ellis
both taxi and private hire misdemeanours in the
The Head of the PCO, Roy Ellis, replied to Call Sign’s complaint, writing:
"I refer to your letter dated 23 August on the subject of the PCO Notice announcing the action taken by the PCO following convictions / cautions for touting. I confess to being a little surprised that the Notice has been interpreted in the way you suggest. Touting is not an offence that I generally associate with taxi drivers because of its low incidence within the taxi trade. It is much more an activity associated with minicabs - which is confirmed by the subsequent figures you were given. It was not our intention to mislead anyone - and certainly not the intention to wrongly attribute offences to taxi drivers.
Now that I am aware of the interpretation you have placed upon the Notice, I will review the format and content of future such notices.
Thank you for making your views known."
The fact that the PCO sent me a breakdown of the figures as soon as I asked followed by the letter from Roy Ellis, suggests that instances such as the one Call Sign complained about, may become fewer. We certainly hope so, because whilst not suggesting that the PCO did it deliberately, it isn’t difficult to understand how people reading the PCO Notice could come to an incorrect assumption. Mr Ellis may know that it isn’t the licensed Taxi trade that tend to tout, but there are others reading this and other mags that wouldn’t know that…
from within our industry to be included with
the Private Hire industry. And that, in my opinion, is totally
incorrect, they should be separated. However, I have decided to
publish the information as I would be extremely surprised if the
figures contained a high proportion of Taxi Drivers – let’s hope
I am not proven wrong!"
The Chairman went on to add:
"If my suspicions are proven to be correct, can you just imagine how the problem would be exacerbated by the introduction of exterior signage on Private Hire vehicles? The authorities should heed these figures and deny the Private Hire industry the right of exterior signage – the price in public safety would be enormous!"
Brian then published the PCO figures, which claimed that from a total of 2047 private hire and taxi drivers whose names had been sent to the PCO by TOCU at the Met, 1095 had their cases looked at by the PCO of which just 169 had no action taken – including those whose licence application was withdrawn anyway.
I then wrote to the PCO to ask for a breakdown of the figures. By return, they confirmed that the number of Licensed Taxi drivers referred to were indeed in a tiny minority with just 13 out of that 1095 total being directly linked to the licensed taxi trade. As a result, I wrote an official complaint to the PCO re the "lumping together" of
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