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HUNDREDS of sexual offences by drivers of private-hire vehicles in London were recorded by police in 2018 – a huge 81 per cent increase on the year before.
The total of 294 includes 25 rapes and 269 other offences, mainly assaults such as intentional sexual touching without consent.
Some 17 drivers were charged, of which were 15 private-hire drivers.
Their cases resulted in six convictions, while six drivers were cleared and five were awaiting court outcomes.
None of the drivers charged currently holds an operating licence.
The Metropolitan Police and City of London Police data was published by Transport for London (TfL), which licenses taxi and private-hire drivers in the capital.
The GMB union, which represents private-hire drivers, called on City Hall and TfL to establish to what extent a failure to enforce standards has contributed to the rise in offences.
GMB regional officer Steve Garelick said: “These figures are serious and abhorrent, and horrifyingly they are on the rise.
“It is the responsibility of licensing authorities to make sure anyone found guilty of these awful crimes can never operate a private-hire vehicle again.
“These figures above all are a clear reminder of why GMB has campaigned for strict licensing standards and enforcement of them for cab operators, cars and drivers to protect the travelling public.
“Enforcement of these standards is the only way to protect the public."
TfL said the increase in offences was a result of new guidance it had issued to private-hire operators in late 2017, stressing the importance of reporting criminal conduct to the police immediately.
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