A sting operation in the city centre saw 15 illegal taxi drivers caught in the space of just one hour.
And Nottingham's head of licensing says it is "a game of cat and mouse" to catch the drivers in the act.
Richard Antcliff says around 200 drivers regularly use social media messenger service Whatsapp to keep the council off their tail.
If an illegal driver spots a council or police officer then a message is pinged out to avoid that area so they aren't caught and prosecuted.
The Post went undercover with Nottingham City Council licensing boss Mr Antcliff to evaluate the scale of the problem in Nottingham city centre on Friday evening.
In just over one hour, 15 drivers were caught picking up customers illegally. One left his vehicle outside a bus stop to issue a tirade of abuse, and another sped off before his details could be taken.
The 15 caught are now going through the system but face possible penalties including a fine or losing their badge.
The council’s licensing team are targeting drivers who obtain private hire licences from other councils and then 'tout' for business - also known as ‘plying for hire’ - on the streets of Nottingham.
The majority of the 15 caught on Friday evening had their licences issued in Gedling. Private hire drivers from Gedling can drop off in the city, but the problems arise when they then try to pick up passengers.
Under legislation, private hire vehicles may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or being hailed down like a city hackney cab.
However, Mr Antcliffe says around 200 taxi drivers are regularly breaking the law.
Mr Antcliff says that illegal taxi drivers are putting the public at risk – with a small minority using their cover to commit serious crimes.
He said in the last six months the city has got "out of control", and more enforcement work is needed to ensure that illegal taxis are driven out of Nottingham.
The council runs one operation a month, but has a team of two on the streets each night.
Around 40 drivers have been caught so far this year and prosecuted - but Mr Antcliff says this is just the "tip of the iceberg" if they had more resources.
He says that in the last two years, eight taxi drivers plying for hire have committed serious offences including rape, sexual touching, conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs, grievous bodily harm and indecent exposure. They have all lost their taxi badges.
Other offences committed by illegal drivers include not setting the meter, charging high prices, and leaving the passenger uninsured if an accident was to occur while in the vehicle.
He told the Post: "It is all money-related, and on occasion more sinister. It is cash in hand, the operator is not taking a percentage and there is no meter.
"The criminal cases we have seen are just the people who have come forward, but there will be other victims who have been ripped off on the meter, been a victim of sexual innuendo or experienced more sinister acts from drivers. That is why it is important that customers use pre-booked cabs or a green hackney taxi.
"We have really started to clamp down in the last six months, for a number of reasons. The city has got out of control in regards to taxis, we have seen some nasty offences committed, and we are going throug
"It is unfair for legitimate drivers to have their work stolen under their noses by those who are illegally flying round the city. We are also concerned about public safety. If you are a single female, use a hackney or pre-book a private hire.
"If you just jump into any cab there is no record of that journey and you risk the chance of becoming a victim because you just don’t know if it is legitimate."
Mr Antcliff says illegal drivers are using social messenger site Whatsapp on their mobile phones to avoid detection.
He said: "Eighty-five percent of drivers are legitimate and doing pre-booked jobs but there is a cohort – 200 on one given night.
"They are all individually out for themselves but they know each other and they help each other out. It is a hustle and their way of communicating is through Whatsapp.
"They say 'police and council are out' or they will say 'we have seen the taxi CPOs (community protection officers) out on Milton Street', and they go to the other side of the city.
"It is a game of cat and mouse but we are getting smarter. We are using the eye in the sky – we are using the CCTV cameras across the city."
Sean Cochrane is one of the community protection officers whose job is to stop illegal taxi drivers.
He said: "People want to get home but they do not realise the consequences. We are seeing in excess of a hundred. We won't catch everyone but we will deter it. We are concerned about safety."
During Friday's operation, drivers were asked why they flouted the law, but often denied any knowledge of wrongdoing.
Despite one driver accepting a £20 offer to Kimberley, once rumbled he told the Post he would never have taken us and had only stopped to buy chips.
Councillor Toby Neal, the portfolio holder for community and customer service, has stressed the importance of keeping people safe.
He said: "It is coming up to one of the most busy times f the year and everyone wants to go out and have fun which is great, but our main concern is keeping people safe and if they are getting into unregulated taxi's then they are putting themselves at risk.
"Private hire taxis by law should be pre-booked and if you get into one with out pre-booking you are at risk. We can't trace them, you don't know who they are and you won't be covered by insurance."
Sam Rycroft, 30, of Bulwell, was one customer who was about to take an illegal taxi. on Friday night.
He said: "I have had a couple of taxi drivers ask for £20 deposit or my mobile phone as deposit. It is bad for illegal taxis in the city. All I want to do is get home safe after a night out."
Amy Upson, 24, of Essex, who was about to get into an illegal taxi, told the Post: "I went up to him and said it would be £10 to the Premier Inn. I feel really bad. The fact he stopped in the middle of the street indicated to me he was legitimate."
Rachel Hustwayte, 38, of Wollaton, was queuing at the hackney taxi rank, which was manned by marshalls.
She said: "We are queuing for a hackney in the hope we get a safe and legitimate ride home. You hope they will charge the correct fare rather than make one up."
It's all to make sure people get home safely as revellers get into the festive spirit. For the past seven years, East Riding of Yorkshire Council's licensing team have been providing marshals on taxi ranks in the town over the Christmas and New Year period.
From (Friday 15 December) licensed marshals will operate on the main ranks between midnight and 4am making sure there are orderly queues, ensuring people have enough money for the fare as well as making sure they are getting into a licensed vehicle.
The marshals will also be on the look-out for vehicles that are unlicensed and trying to operate as taxi drivers.
Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for community involvement at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said:
“The taxi marshals are a welcomed by the public, the pub and bar trade as well as the taxi owners who say this initiative works really well.
They provide some reassurance for those out celebrating the festive period as well as helping people stay calm and in good spirits.
We want everyone to enjoy themselves but most importantly stay safe and that’s what taxi marshals are there to do.”
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has also issued some advice for people using taxis or private hire vehicles:
A pair of brothers have been ordered to pay more than £1,000 compensation to a Bulgarian taxi driver who they attacked and racially abused.
Barry Bryan and Bob Moffat asked the shocked driver to show them his passport and told him to go back to his own country after he refused to let them into his cab.
Bryan climbed onto the bonnet of his VW car to stop him driving off and when the driver got out to take a picture of him, the pair attacked him and took his phone.
Moffat punched him in the face and deliberately broke his glasses during the fracas outside the Odeon cinema in Sidwell Street, Exeter.
The argument broke out because the two drunken men were eating take aways when the taxi pulled up and refused to finish them before getting into the car.
Moffat, aged 33, of Church Road, Exeter, and his stepbrother Bryan, aged 39, of Clapham, London, both admitted racially aggravated threatening behaviour. Bryan also admitted criminal damage to the car.
They were both jailed for six months, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay a total of £1,127 compensation and £600 costs by Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.
He told them:”Taxi drivers provide a valuable service to the public, often as in this case working anti-social hours. It is intolerable that any abuse should be directed at them because of their ethnicity or because they were born outside this country.
“The particularly disturbing aspect of this case is the racial element that was displayed when berating and then attacking this man.”
Miss Emmi Wilson, prosecuting, said the driver was called to pick the men up from Sidwell Street at 1.30 am on April 3 this year,
He found them sitting on the steps of the cinema eating a take away and asked them to finish before getting in, locking his car when they tried to do so.
He tried to drive off but Bryan sat on his bonnet, causing a small dent, and stayed there. Moffat attacked the driver and the two men took his phone when he tried to use it to photograph them.
Miss Wilson said:”At the start of the incident Moffat became aggressive and said ‘show me your passport, where’s your passport?’ Bryan told him to go back to his own country.”
Miss Kelly Scrivener, for Bryan, says he has a well-paid job as a site foreman and had come to visit his family because his stepfather had just been diagnosed with cancer.
She said he had been drinking with Moffat at a time when they were both stressed by the situation and had over reacted. She said he works with people of all backgrounds and is not racist.
Mr Brian Fitzherbert, for Moffat, said he was also under strain because of his father’s illness. He said he is not racist but had lashed out verbally in a moment of anger.
A mass brawl involved a man being held down and attacked at a taxi rank in Plymouth city centre.
Police are investigating after a fight broke out on Raleigh Street by Derry’s Cross around 1.45am on Sunday December 2.
A large group of men approached the taxi rank and around four of them began fighting with members of the public waiting there.
Two men were assaulted.
One of the male victims was held down and repeatedly assaulted by two men by railings at the pedestrian crossing in the middle of Raleigh Street.
He left the scene before officers arrived and police are appealing for him to come forward to assist with enquiries.
He was wearing a light-coloured T-shirt and dark trousers and was in his early 20s.
An 18-year-old man from Plymouth has been arrested in connection with the incident and released under investigation.
The victim or anyone who witnessed him is asked to contact police via firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 101, quoting crime reference CR/104884/17.
There was a Taxi protest over the issue of the licensing of Uber in York.
The demonstration was the latest by private hire and Hackney carriage drivers.
They claim Uber is operating without the safety checks and security demanded by local licensing regulations.
It took place outside West Offices where councillors were meeting to discuss Uber and the licence to opperate in York.
Driver said they did not block the inner-ring road.