Two women were left shaken after unsettling taxi journeys in two separate incidents in East Devon, prompting council warnings.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) licensing department has received two reports in the past month from people using taxis taken from a rank on the Strand, in Exmouth.
The first passenger reported an incident, in December, where she said she was subject to inappropriate conversation from the taxi driver, behaving below the professional standard expected from drivers.
In January, during a second incident, a lone passenger using the same taxi rank said she was subject to excessive and high speeds by a driver who became rude and unprofessional when she highlighted her concerns.
No taxi plates or vehicle registration numbers were identified in the incidents, and there is currently no link between the reported cars or drivers.
EDDC has now launched an investigation into the incidents but would like to remind anyone using a taxi service to remember to stay safe.
Councillor Joe Whibley, chair of EDDC's Licensing and Enforcement Committee, said:
Our taxi drivers do a brilliant job providing a much needed service to the local community. Unlicensed drivers pose a threat to the safety of our residents - these recent incidents prove that. Even after a long night out, if you follow EDDC's advice, you'll get home safely. Check the taxi for EDDC licence plates, ask to see an ID badge and if in doubt, get out.
An EDDC spokesperson said:
The vast majority of licensed drivers continue to operate professionally in the manner expected of their role and do not tolerate nor welcome incidents of this kind.
Licensed taxis uphold an important role in our communities by providing safe travel for the public.
The council has guidance to assist passengers to catch taxis safely.
How to tell if a taxi or private hire vehicle is licensed with EDDC:
- Can be flagged down and found at the ranks in East Devon.
- Can be pre-booked in advance with the taxi company.
- They have a yellow roof light with the word TAXI on it.
- They will have a blue and white plate fixed to the back of the vehicle with a licence number and vehicle registration.
- Should display a vehicle number and fare prices on their dashboard or somewhere inside the front of the vehicle.
Private hire vehicle:
- Must be pre-booked through a licensed operator.
- Will have a yellow plate fixed to the back of the vehicle with a licence number and vehicle registration.
- Are not permitted to display a roof sign and do not operate taxi meters.
Taxi and private hire drivers:
- Will be wearing an EDDC badge with their photo, badge number, name and expiry.
- All East Devon District Council licensed drivers undergo regular checks to make sure they are suitable to carry members of the public
How to be safe:
- Confirm the booking with the driver when the vehicle arrives.
- Note the licence number down from the plate on the back of the vehicle or the details inside the vehicle.
- Sit in the back behind the driver.
- Let a third party know details of the journey you are taking.