New Rules Proposed for Uber to Avoid Sexual Assaults
The government has recently announced stricter rules for taxis, including those which are ordered using an app on your mobile telephone.
Without doubt, Uber is the most popular taxi app in the UK. However, it has been plagued by problems regarding the safety, or lack of, for its passengers.
It came to light that individuals were driving Ubers when they had not been licenced to do so. Using their friends’ driver log-ins, they would complete shifts hoping no one would notice they did not match their profile photograph.
There have been convictions for sexual assault at the hands of licenced Uber drivers and those who have driven Ubers when they have not even been licensed to do so. I believe that these convictions are welcome but there are not nearly enough.
The drivers who assault individuals often do so when they believe their passengers are intoxicated or will not be believed. They prey on people who have been drinking, knowing that they are unlikely to report to the police because they fear they will not be believed. When it is an Uber driver and a person who has been drinking, juries are often directed to look at someone’s sexual history and how much they drink as opposed to the fact that the whole point of ordering a taxi is to ensure they are brought home safely.
Whilst Uber are settling claims for compensation this is somewhat like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Uber have continually failed to protect their passengers and so the Department of Transport has now decided to take action.
There will now be criminal record checks for all taxi drivers every 6 months. Safeguarding training will also be provided to drivers to ensure they spot and help passengers who are being abused.
Most importantly, there has been a submission that CCTV should be installed in all taxis. There are potential privacy difficulties with this proposal. There must be a balancing exercise between the privacy of passengers but also the safety of them and drivers. Ultimately a decision will be made by the Department of Transport. I think it is safe to say that if CCTV was installed in vehicles the offending rates would decrease and most people would feel safer in an Uber.
Siobhan Crawford is an associate solicitor in the Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp. If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Siobhan free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4886 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Abuse team will contact you. Find out more about the Abuse team.