Ipswich minicab driver stole teenager’s phone after illegally touting

An Ipswich minicab driver has been convicted of touting for business and stealing a £450 phone belonging to a teenage girl he illegally picked up at Cardinal Park.

Valdet Miftari, of Compair Crescent, Ipswich, was also found guilty of plying for trade when not licensed as a public Hackney carriage and having no insurance for his Volvo V50, after a trial at the town’s magistrates’ court.

The 29-year-old denied all the charges.

On April 29, 2016 two teenage girls left Unit 17 nightclub in Cardinal Park between 2.30am and 2.45am, having booked a cab home through Hawk Express.

There were several cabs waiting for customers.

One of the women approached drivers to find the vehicle they had booked.

The third driver she approached was Miftari, a self-employed licensed private hire driver, working for Hawk Express.

The court was told he offered to take the women home, but when they got into his cab he asked one of them to call his office and cancel the booking, telling them to say ‘my mum had picked us up’.

It was claimed Miftari suggested stopping at a kebab shop on Norwich Road because he had heard the teenagers say they were hungry.

Miftari offered to wait inside for the food order, while the teenagers went to wait in his car.

One of the girls left her mobile phone on the counter. The prosecution said that out of the view of staff Miftari covered the phone with his arm, and then put it in his pocket.

After arriving home one of the teenagers realised she had lost her £450 phone. She contacted Hawk Express in the hope of recovering her phone, but Miftari had not been booked by the company.

The teenager went to the kebab shop and took a copy of its CCTV to the police, who identified Miftari’s Volvo.

She also went to Ipswich Borough Council as the licensing authority for taxis and minicabs.

A minicab driver invalidates his insurance if he touts for trade.

It was established Miftari had no reason to be in Cardinal Park. Miftari claimed he gave the teenagers a free lift home out of kindness, because they had been waiting in the cold, and he did not charge them for the journey. He admitted he took the phone, but said he had handed it back.
Miftari will be sentenced on March 21.

source: http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/

Taxi drivers fined £4,000 for illegally plying for hire during the 2016 Gold Cup

Four taxi drivers have been fined almost £4,000 for illegally plying for hire in Cheltenham during the 2016 Gold Cup.

Sarah Hughes, licensing enforcement officer for the borough council, said the prosecutions are a “warning to drivers who wish to capitalise on the additional footfall” during race week.

Duncan Holder, of Solway Road in Cheltenham, was ordered to pay £1,550 in fines and costs on Monday, October 17 after pleading guilty to the offence by post.

Manunur Rashid, a licensed Hackney Carriage driver with Malvern District Council, attended court and was represented.

He pleaded guilty to illegally plying for hire and was ordered to pay £753 in fines and costs while Ephraim Chimuka of Reservoir Road, Gloucester also pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £848.

Aziz Ur Rehman of Pilgrove Way, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty by post and was ordered to pay a total of £820.

The four most recent convictions follow a successful prosecution of Steven Rising for the same offence.

A further four drivers pleaded not guilty and trial dates have been set for early 2017.

Councillor Andy McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety said: “We are pleased that the work by officers to stamp out illegal taxi activity during the March races is bearing fruit and we are now seeing successful prosecutions.

“Such illegal activity can significantly compromise public safety and protection and the council will do whatever it can within its means to continue to focus resource and effort to bring those guilty to justice.”

What is plying for hire?

British transport union RMT says: “Under existing regulations, private hire vehicles (PHVs) may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or in response to being hailed.

“These regulations provide passengers with important safety protections against unregulated drivers who have not undergone extensive criminal record and medical checks, or had to pass a formal taxi driving assessment like licensed taxi drivers.

“However, Smartphone apps such as Über are circumventing the law governing the taxi and minicab industry.”

Read more at http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/

Jailed: Sex predator who pretended to be a minicab driver and assaulted passenger

Behind bars: Ahmed Abdirahman Yusuf has been jailed for four-and-a-half years Met Police
Behind bars: Ahmed Abdirahman Yusuf has been jailed for four-and-a-half years Met Police

A “sexual predator”, who posed as a minicab driver and forced himself on a female passenger, has been jailed.

Ahmed Abdirahman Yusuf, of Woodside Road, Haringey, picked up his victim and her friends in Soho, in February, offering a cheap fare back to their homes in Battersea.

However, the 31-year-old then started driving in the opposite direction towards his own home in Wood Green.

The former minicab driver – who was working illegally as a tout during the time of the attack – made suggestive remarks to his victim, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

He grabbed her and kissed her before touching her inappropriately, the Old Bailey heard.

Yusuf only agreed to free his victim from the car after she gave him her phone number.

He called his victim 10 times the next day before she reported him to the police.

The “dangerous predator” was jailed for four-and-a-half years, at the same court on October 13, after being found guilty of sexual assault.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for an indefinite period and is subject to a sexual offences prevention order for an indefinite period.

Detective Superintendent Adnan Qureshi branded Yusuf “dangerous” and praised his victim’s “courage” in coming forward.

He said: “Yusuf is a dangerous, sexual predator and has received a lengthy jail sentence and entry onto the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

“I have nothing but praise for the victim for having the courage to come forward and report this crime.

“If you ever experience unwanted sexual behaviour, report it to the police. You will always be taken seriously and the incident will be fully investigated.”

source: http://www.standard.co.uk/

Private Hire drivers guilty of picking up illegal fares in Milton Keynes

Two private hire drivers have been convicted at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court of picking up passengers illegally – known as ‘blagging’ – in the town.

Bi Trazie Alain Fegone, of Nelson Way, Rugby, attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.

Javen Hussain, of Grantham Road, Luton, did not attend court, but was found guilty in absence of plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.

The prosecutions were brought as a result of a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking, it invalidates their car insurance.

Fegone was fined £40 for plying for hire and £120 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given six penalty points and has to pay costs of £320, with a victim surcharge of £20.

Hussain was fined £220 for plying for hire and £660 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 points on his licence and has to pay costs of £930 and a victim surcharge of £66.

The court heard that on the weekend of May 7/8, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

At the completion of these journeys, taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations showed neither of the drivers were allocated legitimate collections from the locations they were caught plying from.

The vehicles involved were displaying private hire door signs for Private Hire Operator Speedline and were licensed by South Northants Council.

Cllr Mick Legg, the Cabinet Member responsible for taxi licensing policy, said: “Licensed drivers are in a position of trust and members of the public expect that anyone driving a licensed vehicle has the correct licence and insurance to do so.

“These taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in their private hire vehicles. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.”

Read more at http://www.onemk.co.uk/

Trafford Council secures private hire prosecution after ‘sting’ operation at Manchester United game

A PRIVATE hire driver has been convicted of licensing and insurance offences after an undercover operation at a Manchester United match by Trafford Council.

At Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court on September 2, Trafford Council secured a conviction against Mohammed Amin Eid Al-Kharabsheh, a private hire driver licensed by Manchester City Council.

He was found guilty of three offences – picking up a fare without a booking, driving without insurance and failing to wear his driver’s badge.

The prosecution resulted from an undercover enforcement operation by Trafford Council staff.

Kharabsheh was fined £300 and given six penalty points, ordered to pay £300 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

He was one of a number of private hire drivers caught out by checks conducted at Manchester United’s first home game of last season.

He offered to take the two council enforcement staff, who were posing as customers, to Piccadilly station for £25. The checks on that day were part of a series of on-going operations, mounted in response to the problem of illegal plying for hire on match days.

Executive member for economic growth, environment and infrastructure, Cllr John Reilly, said: “Trafford Council will continue to take action against those who flout laws which are there to protect public safety and in doing this, support those who trade legitimately.

“Within the Trafford area only Trafford licensed hackney carriages can be hailed on the street without a booking. By making illegal pick-ups in this way, private hire drivers invalidate their insurance, put customers at risk and face prosecution and possible loss of their licence.”

Anyone wanting to report concerns they have about private hire drivers should email licensing@trafford.gov.uk

source: http://www.messengernewspapers.co.uk/

Mystery passengers could be used to snare illegal street pick up private hire drivers

MYSTERY passengers could be used to nab private hire drivers who illegally pick up people who flag them down in the street.

City council bosses believe the move could save passengers being put at risk by rogue drivers.

The city has almost 3000 private hire cars which can only pick up people who have pre-booked and are not allowed to trawl the streets for trade – known as pirating.

Licensing bosses say pirating is not only a breach of licence conditions but poses a serious threat to the safety of passengers.

They warn there will be no recorded details of the journey putting people in a potentially vulnerable situation and open to being exploited by inflated fares.

A report to councillors says: “If details of the journey are not known or recorded by the booking office, it can be much more difficult to trace the driver if unlawful or inappropriate behaviour occurs.

“The risk to the safety of passengers in these circumstances can be exacerbated as pirating tends to happen during peak periods late at night and in the early hours of the morning, often when passengers may be under the influence of alcohol.

“There are also potentially serious consequences for members of the public and other road users as the driver of the private hire car engaged in pirating is very unlikely to be covered by a valid policy of motor insurance in the event of an accident if he or she is operating contrary to the conditions of their licence.”

Officers from the council’s taxi and private hire car enforcement unit carry out regular action checks in known hot spots at peak periods.

That has resulted in a significant number of drivers facing having their license suspended.

But the report adds: “Pirating continues to be a serious and widespread issue and additional robust measures are required to tackle and deter drivers from continuing to engage in this illegal and irresponsible practice.”

It says introducing mystery passengers will allow the enforcement unit to identify and gather evidence against pirate drivers.

Taxi and private hire companies will be informed of the plan in advance.

The report says: “It is hoped this will act as a more effective deterrent to those drivers who might consider picking up passengers who have not made a booking if there is a risk the potential passenger is part of a mystery shopper operation.

“Another key component of launching a mystery shopper scheme is to raise awareness among members of the public of the dangers of getting into a private hire car that has not been pre-booked.”

Stephen Flynn, vice chairman of Glasgow Taxis, said he hoped the council plan would be introduced as soon as possible.

He added: “The existing regulations are in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike and anyone caught in breach of them should be sanctioned accordingly.

Read more: Decision day on age limit for city taxis

“We advise anyone hailing a cab on the street to look for the distinguishable yellow flag on each of our 800 vehicles.”

source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/

Another Milton Keynes taxi driver prosecuted for ‘blagging’

6938705977_0d226702c4_oAnother Milton Keynes minicab driver has been prosecuted for unlawfully plying for hire – known as blagging – following a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.

Jonson Olukeye Okuribido, of Redbourne Court, Stony Stratford appeared in court today (3 August) and admitted to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.

He was fined £225 in total and ordered to pay £845 in costs with a £20 victim surcharge. He also received 6 DVLA penalty points for the no insurance offence.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – and if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking it also invalidates their car insurance.

The court heard how on the 15 August 2015, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the driver on a journey which had not been pre-booked by the hirer from one location to another in Milton Keynes. As the officers got into the vehicle Mr Okuribido attempted to make the booking on their behalf.

At the completion of the journey taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by the officers showed that the driver did not have an allocated legitimate collection from the location he was caught plying from. In addition, a driver cannot make the booking with the Operator on behalf of the passenger.

The vehicle involved was displaying private hire door signage for Private Hire Operator Speedline.

Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police have on-going concerns over the public’s use of Private Hire vehicles (also known as minicabs) that have not been booked in advance. Private Hire vehicle drivers are only allowed to pick up people who have pre-booked, unlike Hackney Carriages which are allowed to pick up fares on the street. In case of an accident, neither the driver nor the passenger would be covered by insurance.

When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.

Neil Allen, Head of Regulatory Services at Milton Keynes Council said:”This case, along with the others we have prosecuted recently, will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law.

“Case law is clear and drivers are not permitted to make bookings on behalf of customers.

“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a pre-arranged booking for their own safety.”

Read more at http://www.onemk.co.uk/

The pirates of Milton Keynes

6938705977_0d226702c4_oThree private hire drivers have been fined after pleading guilty to picking up passengers illegally.

Mohammed Khakpour, of Eighth Street, Milton Keynes, Francis Agyekum, of Buckingham Gate, Eaglestone, Milton Keynes, and Salim Ahmed, of Northampton, admitted to plying for hire when they appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – and if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking it also invalidates their car insurance.

Mr Ahmed was fined £770 and ordered to pay £310 in costs with a £46 victim surcharge.

Mr Khakpour was fined £200 and ordered to pay £310 in costs with a £20 victim surcharge.

Mr Agyekum was fined £585 and ordered to pay £321 in costs with a £35 victim surcharge.

All three drivers received six DVLA penalty points.

The court heard how on December 19 and 20 last year, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

At the completion of these journeys taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting.
Investigations by the officers showed that none of the drivers were allocated legitimate collections from the locations they were caught plying from.

The vehicles involved were all displaying private hire door signs (one each) for Private Hire Operators Starline, Speedline and Eezy Cabs.

Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police have on-going concerns over the public’s use of Private Hire vehicles (also known as minicabs) that have not been booked in advance. Private Hire vehicle drivers are only allowed to pick up people who have pre-booked, unlike Hackney Carriages which are allowed to pick up fares on the street. In case of an accident, neither the driver nor the passenger would be covered by insurance.

When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.

Neil Allen, Head of Regulatory Services at Milton Keynes Council said: “Licensed drivers are in a position of trust and members of the public expect that anyone driving a licensed vehicle has the correct licence and insurance to do so.

“These taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in their private hire vehicles. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover

means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.

“These cases will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law.

“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a prearranged booking for their own safety.

“These operations by Milton Keynes Council will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”

source: http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/

PH driver facing ban after illegally picking up undercover council workers

A private-hire driver could be stripped of his licence after admitting illegally accepting a fare from enforcement officers masquerading as potential clients.

As a licensed minicab driver, Kulwant Cheema was authorised to take pre-booked passengers but prohibited from accepting anyone flagging him down from the side of the road.

But he admitted to magistrates he did pick up the pair from Cleveland Street, in Wolverhampton city centre, in November last year and agreed to take them to The Mount Hotel, Tettenhall.

Appearing at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Cheema, said: “I saw them waving frantically. It was a bitterly cold night.

“I did say to them they should have booked before we pulled off. I thought that is what they were doing because one of them was on their phone and you can do it through a text.”

The enforcement officers from Wolverhampton council were in fact sending a text message to their colleagues who were at the roadside to greet Cheema when the taxi arrived at its destination.

An interview was arranged at which Cheema, an experienced taxi driver of eight years standing, said he picked up the pair because he ‘felt sorry for them’ as they looked cold and ‘in desperate need’ of a taxi.

He added: “During the journey I actually received a job on the system. I pressed it thinking it was the one the passengers had booked but the screen went blank.

“I thought once I was at the hotel I would check the screen.”

At court Cheema admitted one count of plying for hire when the carriage was not licensed as a public hackney carriage and also to one count of driving without insurance.

He was fined a total of £460 for the two offences, told to pay £629 towards prosecution costs and a £35 victim surcharge. Six penalty points were also put on his driving licence.

The chair of the magistrate’s bench, who refused to give his name to the Express & Star, told Cheema: “You know as well I do for passengers to use a private hire taxi they must have booked in advance. You cannot get into the cab and then book it.

“You also know that you were driving without insurance. This will be a hard lesson to learn for you but it is done to protect the public and other taxi drivers.

“Undoubtedly the council will want to talk to you about your taxi licence. It is a silly thing to do and you will have to suffer the consequences for it.”

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

New signs installed across Birmingham city centre to warn illegal taxi drivers

Cabbies and private hire drivers who operate illegally in Birmingham are being warned they will be caught and face prosecution.

New signs have been installed across the city centre reminding drivers against breaking the law and touting for on-street business – a specific offence known in the trade as ’plying.’

Almost 50 rogue drivers were found illegally picking up people in the city during the last 18 months as part of a crackdown.

Warning that CCTV is in operation, the 100 reflective signs have been put near prominent entertainment spots including:

Broad Street
Hurst Street
Ladywell Walk

Offenders face penalty points, hefty court fines and being struck off the council’s books.

West Midlands Police works in partnership with Birmingham City Council’s licensing team to tackle illegal plying for hire.

People who accept unbooked lifts from private hire drivers are not insured in the event of being injured in an accident; only Hackney Carriage vehicles can take fares without being booked in advance.

However, it is also an offence for Hackney Carriage vehicles to tout for customers outside of the council area it is licensed – again making passenger insurance void.

These signs leave no excuses for rogue drivers, if they illegally ply for hire they will be caught.

The majority operate legitimately but there are those who seek to take advantage and make extra cash. Some drivers will use weak excuses such as giving a friend a lift home yet are unable to provide their name or address.

We have seen drivers given six to nine points on their licence along with some drivers being disqualified from driving. One driver was left with a court bill of £1,800.

We would always urge passengers to book their journey or make sure they use a properly licenced cab.

– Enforcement officer PC Dave Humpherson, from West Midlands Police

source: http://www.itv.com/