Transport for London’s (TfL) compliance officers have been granted sweeping new powers to carry out road stops without an accompanying police officer for the first time.
In a bid to save police time and resources, taxi and private hire compliance officers will now be able to pull over vehicles and carry out more enforcement operations without police by their side. 109 officers are currently undergoing training for on-the-spot inspections, cross-border hiring, testing and verification of licensing conditions, such as ID checks.
The powers come after a successful trial at Heathrow in which more than 800 vehicles were checked.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The safety of Londoners is my number-one priority, and with the growth of the private hire industry in London it is essential we give our compliance officers real powers to clamp down on illegal activity, and take action against unsafe and unlicensed vehicles. The majority of taxi and private hire drivers provide a good and safe service for Londoners, but drivers who haven’t got a valid licence or are breaching the terms of their licence shouldn’t be on London’s streets.
“Having increased the number of compliance officers across London last year, I’m delighted they will now have the powers to pull over vehicles and take action against drivers breaking the rules and putting the safety of Londoners at risk.”
The number of privately licensed drivers in the capital has soared by 91 per cent from 59,000 licensed drivers in 2009/10 to around 113,000 this year.
Steve Burton, TfL's director of enforcement and on-street operations, added: “Our compliance officers are at the forefront of combatting unsafe and unlicensed taxi and private hire drivers, who not only pose a serious risk to passenger safety, but undermine licensed, law abiding drivers. These new powers will allow officers to stop and check vehicles without the police present, which will significantly increase levels of enforcement so we can robustly deal with dangerous drivers and vehicles.”