Council issues taxi scam warning for start of new football season

Don’t get taken for a ride on match day.

That’s the big message from Liverpool City Council’s licensing enforcement officers as the new football season kicks-off.

Each season the council team launches a crackdown on unscrupulous black cab and private hire drivers who attempt to rip fans off as they try to get home from the big game.

The typical scam involves drivers refusing to switch their meters on for trips from the ground back into Liverpool, which means fans can be paying way over the odds.

In one example from last season, a fan was charged £20 for a journey from Anfield to Lime Street, which would have between £7 and £9, if the meter was on.

Throughout the football season licensing officers take part in Operation Topaz, which targets the minority of rogue cab and private hire drivers who prey on fans.

This included officers acting as fans approaching drivers in a bid to ensure that they are playing by the rules.

In cases where cabbies have broken the rules, the council has taken tough action.

Last season 17 hackney carriage drivers were reported for demanding higher fares than they would have received from a metered trip – an offence known as cherry-picking. A further 18 private hire drivers were reported for ‘plying for hire’ – which means they agreed to take a fare that had not been booked in advance. This can mean that the driver or passenger would not be insured for the journey. In many cases, the offending drivers faced court action, hefty fines and points on their licences.

Chair of Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Christine Banks, said: “The council is committed to making sure that football fans in our city get a fair deal on match day. It is completely unacceptable that anyone who goes to enjoy a game of football ends up getting ripped off on their way home.

“We will be continuing to conduct operations on matchdays this season in a bid to protect the public. Thankfully the vast majority of Liverpool’s taxi and private hire drivers are honest and play by the rules but the message to those who see our football fans as an easy target is – we will do all we can to catch you.”

The advice for football fans from the city council is clear:

  • A hackney carriage journey from the football stadiums into the city usually costs between £7 and £9.
  • All hackney carriage journeys within Liverpool must have the meter engaged and the driver can only charge you for what is on the meter.
  • All journeys with private hire cars must be pre-booked in advance.

Liverpool-based UNITE union National Taxi Organiser Tommy McIntyre said: “We totally agree with the Chair of Licensing and reiterate that is a small minority of drivers spoiling it for the rest. I would urge the travelling public to be vigilant when moving around the city in a cab and make sure that the meter is on at all times. The majority of passengers enjoy their experience in the cab having banter with the driver over the game as the driver will profess to have more knowledge than Mr Klopp! “On a serious note, if the passenger feels that they are being ripped off, report it to Liverpool Licensing.”

Passengers can report any issues with taxis and private hire vehicles in Liverpool on 0151 233 3015 or licensingenforcement@liverpool.gov.uk