Council bosses have sent out a hard hitting letter to 1,000 taxi drivers warning them that if they are caught picking up passengers illegally they will be prosecuted and could lose their license.
Gedling Borough Council has sent out the letter after a late night sting was carried out by the Post and Nottingham City Council’s head of licensing.
In just one hour, 15 drivers were caught picking up customers illegally, the majority had their licences issued in Gedling.
The city council's licensing team are targeting drivers who obtain private hire licences from other councils such as Gedling and then 'tout' for business - also known as 'plying for hire' - on the streets of Nottingham.
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.
But the city council says around 200 are regularly breaking the law and putting the public at risk, with a small minority using their cover to commit serious crimes such as sexual assaults.
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.
Gedling Borough Council says the warning letter comes after the Post and Nottingham City Council carried out a late night investigation this month and found a small number of Gedling Borough Council plated vehicles picking up customers in the city who had not pre-booked - which is illegal.
The letter, issued to 1,000 licenced drivers, reminds drivers that they must only pick up pre-booked passengers outside of the Gedling boundary.
It also reminds them that if they pick up illegally they are also invalidating their insurance and, if caught, they will be summoned to appear at the licencing committee where they could lose their licence.
Councillor David Ellis, portfolio holder for public protection for Gedling, said: "We have been working with our colleagues at Nottingham city to ensure that all of our drivers are conducting themselves properly and many do, however, this recent exercise has highlighted that some drivers are not following the rules and we are being very clear that if they are caught, they could lose their licence.
"We also must make sure that when passengers flag down a taxi that they can be sure that it is insured and safe, that’s the most important thing here.”
Head of licensing for Nottingham City Council Richard Antcliffe said this was "positive news" and would help drive down illegal taxi drivers.
He said: "We have been in contact with Gedling following the revelations and they have said they will support us.
"After Christmas they have said they will do more joint operations and stings with us, the next step is for both licensing authorities to go out together and tackle this so that Gedling understands the full scale of the problem. We hope that we keep the momentum. If you take your eye off it you are back to square one."
Basheer Latif, 55, who has been a Hackney taxi driver for 30 years and is the chairman of Unite union, which represents around 100 drivers, told the Post: "It is better late than never. Over the last five years it has got worse – our takings are down by at least 30 percent. It is wrecking our livelihoods.
"The main problem is rogue taxi drivers, especially for vulnerable people. It is a danger for them. We have a lot of students in Nottingham and females, and males, have been targeted. There are a few cases where they have been attacked.
"If Gedling really means what it says those drivers that abuse their conditions and lose their licences then it will be a deterrent for others. At the moment they know they can get away with it and it is a free for all."
Nottingham City Council has stopped more than 270 taxis and dished out penalty points for offences including bad parking or failing to display their badge.
A controversial penalty point scheme was introduced by the city counci in April which aimed to clean up the trade.
The Driver Improvement Penalty Point Scheme hands out points for a range of offences.
If a driver receives up to 12 points over a three year period their licence will be reviewed.
If they exceed the 12 points, action will be taken, which can include suspending or revoking their licence. Each offence carries between four to six points.
So far, 271 taxis have been stopped by city council officers – some of the drivers being repeat offenders.
The latest figures are from April 1 to December 8.
The majority of the offences are around parking and failing to display their driver badge.
Others include unacceptable behaviour, having an unroadworthy vehicle, and failing to comply with the conditions of their licence.
One driver has reached 12 points and handed a final written warning by the council.
The scheme was met with a frosty response by some taxi drivers when it was first proposed.
They felt they were being victimised and were forced to park in restricted areas because of the lack of space in the city's taxi ranks.
Basheer Latif, 55, who has been a Hackney taxi driver for 30 years and is the chairman of Unite union, which represents around 100 drivers, told the Post: "We don’t like it (the penalty point system) but in terms of how other cities are it is in line with that.
"As long as it is implemented fairly I do not think we have a problem with it.
"A lot of the penalty points are given at night. If we knew the trade would come to the taxi ranks we would not park in these places (where penalty points are given). At Christmas there is more of a fight for trade – how do we compete with the fly by night drivers."
One of the hot spot areas for offences being committed is outside the Queen’s Medical Centre, where 27 taxis have been stopped and drivers handed penalty points.
Kaleem Ashraf, branch secretary for the same union, Unite says this is a punishable offence.
He said: "The Queen’s Medical Centre is a nightmare. Drivers are making illegal ranks outside and it is really bad. It causes disruption at the front for ambulances. An ambulance is an emergency vehicle and a taxi driver should not be there."
Richard Antcliffe, head of licensing for Nottingham City Council, said: "The idea is not to revoke licences. It is about making that behaviour change. We have definitely seen an improvement."