Undercover sting on London minicab drivers
...One Ghanaian To be Deported Today Undercover women police officers dressed in ballgowns helped to arrest 77 illegal minicab drivers in the biggest ever clampdown on taxi touting in central London.
Disqualified drivers, suspected stolen cars and at least two illegal immigrants were picked up in the four-day operation.
Wearing glamorous frocks outside expensive hotels or in crop tops and high heels in the West End on Friday and Saturday night, female officers waited to be offered a cab home by illegal touts. Male policemen in black tie or casual clothes then moved in to help make the arrest.
All 77 men were charged with taxi touting, which was made an arrestable offence last year.
One illegal immigrant is being deported to Ghana today. Others were held on suspicion of having stolen their vehicle, driving while disqualified or holding only a provisional licence.
Chief Superintendent Michael Humphrey, who commands the Met's transport operational command unit, funded by Transport for London, said: " We are delighted with the results of this operation.
"The arrests we have made once again confirm the dangers of travelling in unlicensed minicabs and demonstrate our commitment to making London a safer place to travel at night."
Police say illegal drivers are one of the biggest dangers to women's safety in the capital. Official figures show unlicensed drivers rape at least three women a month in London and in the past year carried out a sex assault on a woman every three days.
In the past two months alone, one woman has died after falling from an unlicensed cab and a City businessman feared he was going to be shot as his driver picked up an accomplice and drove to the back streets of a council estate.
Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association-said: "People who use illegal touts risk being robbed, raped or even murdered."
The latest four-day operation involved more than 100 officers from the Met and the British Transport Police, along with officials from the immigration service and the Public Carriage Office.
Although 2,330 minicab operators in London are now licensed by the PCO - a total of 9.335 vehicles - at least 5,000 illegal touts are thought still to be operating.
Only black cabs are allowed to pick up passengers from the street. Licensed cabs are only legal if booked over the telephone or through an office.