Taxi drivers

The laws behind BILKING and what taxi drivers can do to stop it from happening

Hacking happens in several industries and it is when someone runs away before paying for goods and/or services. This includes diners who don’t pay their restaurant bill, motorists who leave without paying gas pump bills and of course taxi passengers who don’t pay their fare.

Unfortunately, some passengers do not intend to pay the taxi driver for his services when they enter the taxi.

It is extremely frustrating for taxi drivers when this happens. The taxi driver will not only be left out on the money owed on the fare, but he also lost time in his shift to earn the money he needs and should have covered the costs of fuel and vehicle for the fake. travel.

Piracy is a big problem. There are also huge security risks associated with being scammed. Do the drivers get out of the taxi to look for their crook? Is this a trap to lure the driver out of the vehicle?

Is non-payment of a ticket a criminal offence?

According to PC Patrick Quinton, who specializes in enforcing taxis and private hire vehicles in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, it depends on the circumstances whether the non-payer has committed a criminal offence. There are 3 laws that cover this:

When someone runs away – Section 3 Theft Act 1978 “a person who, knowing that payment on the spot for any property supplied or service received is demanded or expected of him, dishonestly absconds without having paid as demanded or expected and intending to ‘avoiding payment of the amount due is guilty of an offence’

If someone claims they will pay “go to an ATM” “my friend will pay when we get there” – Section 2 Fraud Act 2006 “if he makes a dishonest misrepresentation and intends, by making the misrepresentation, to…cause loss to another or to expose another to the risk of loss” ~ note that a representation is false if a person knows that it is, or could be, false or misleading.

When someone else is involvedorders a taxi for someone else – Section 11 Fraud Act 2006 “if he obtains services for himself or another by a dishonest act…intends that payment will not be made, or not be carried out in full”.

PC Quinton points out that the common theme is that there must be intent and dishonesty.

True errors or misunderstandings are not dishonest, such as confusion over who is paying.

Dissatisfaction with the service offered or a disagreement over the price may mean that it is not a crime either. It only covers the fare, so extras such as soiling fees are not covered. In court, it must be proven that the person was dishonest beyond a reasonable doubt and intended to avoid payment.

Basically… no dishonesty means no crime.

How do you report Bilking?

It is important that these incidents are reported in the right way. If the taxi driver feels threatened and the crime is still ongoing, or the suspect is nearby, drivers are advised to call 999.

If the passenger is long gone and faster than an Olympic sprinter, taxi drivers must still report the incident. According to PC Quinton, it is important to show how often these incidents occur, and trends can be spotted to identify repeat offenders.

Taxi drivers can report the crime online, to their local police department or by calling 101.

What will the police do?

The police will assess the information provided and decide if a crime has been committed. If they believe there is no crime, the police can pass the passenger details to the driver so that a civil action can be taken.

The police will also consider whether it is proportionate and in the public interest to investigate further. For example, for a fare of £5, the police would register it as a crime, but if there were no additional factors, they might take no further action due to the value.

What’s going on next to Bilking’s suspect?

If the police identify a suspect, they may be required to make a statement about what happened during the reported incident. If officers cannot locate a suspect or if the suspect denies it and there is insufficient evidence, the case is likely to be dismissed.

If the suspect admits to the offense and hasn’t had a lot of trouble before, he can receive a conditional caution. This is a criminal record and they may also have to pay the driver the fare due.

If the suspect denies this and there is enough evidence, he may have to appear in court and the driver may have to testify in court.

For riders convicted by a court of first instance, they are liable to a fine. There is also the possibility that they could be imprisoned for up to six months. If found guilty in Crown Court or sent back to Crown Court to be sentenced in the Magistrates Court, then they could face a prison sentence of up to two years, plus a hefty fine. .

What are local authorities and industry doing to reduce the risk of bilking?

North East Lincolnshire Council licensing officers were recently forced to warn taxi users that taxi drivers can request payment in advance after a spike in reported incidents of passengers not paying their fares.

The Council’s licensing team has advised more drivers to request their fees in advance due to the number of reports. Drivers have the right to request the fee in advance, but many choose not to, instead charging their passengers once they arrive at their destination.

Officials say taxi drivers who choose to charge customers in advance are still required to display a meter and any outstanding balances must be paid to the driver or passenger, as the case may be.

There was also talk of the possibility of introducing a “NO RIDE LIST”, similar to what we see in the aviation industry with their “NO FLY LIST”.

GMB regional organizer Steve Garelick spoke to TaxiPoint last month about the possibility of such a list to help mitigate the risks faced by private taxi and hire drivers.

Garelick said: ‘We are all used to seeing ‘We will not tolerate abuse of our staff’ signage in hospitals, medical practices and retailers among other places, so why do some people believe they can act with impunity? towards those who provide their personal means of transport? »

In some cities, taxi drivers are well connected through online forums, WhatsApp groups and on social media. In these groups, drivers are more than likely to tell others about the Bilking experience to warn their colleagues.

Should taxi drivers be worried about Bilking and what are the best tips?

It’s never pleasant when this happens, but luckily it doesn’t happen regularly. Most of the general public are law abiding people who will pay the fare as expected. If you’re a taxi driver who finds himself in an unfortunate position, here are some tips from PC Patrick Quinton:

  • Getting home safely for your family is more important than a fare. Stay professional. Be calm and avoid strong or threatening words.

  • Avoid following or detaining suspects. Although legally you can arrest the suspect using reasonable force, it could put you in danger or subject you to civil liability. It’s usually best to avoid doing this, especially for a small amount of money. This includes locking the suspect in your vehicle or taking them to the police station.

  • You have every right to ask for a deposit for the trip, such as a driver’s license, passport or mobile phone.

  • If something goes wrong, make sure you know how to quickly start recording on your phone or dashcam if it’s safe to do so. Try to get the person to say how much they owe you on the tape.

  • Provide a means to pay by phone or card.

  • Remember the descriptions and anything said that might identify the suspect later – especially if you are a Hackney Carriage driver.

  • If you are a VTC, tell the police who your operator is and the employment or booking reference for the ride.

  • When a suspect is to pay you compensation as part of a conditional caution or community resolution and the police ask you for a cost, be sure to include your time making a statement as well as the rate.

  • If you have to call 999, the first thing they’ll want to know is your location. Be prepared to give a specific location – you can use What3Words, a postcode or a road name.