LONE women have been warned to be on their guard if taking a taxi in Redditch and Bromsgrove.
It comes after at least two cases of extortion and intimidation against women who, having caught a taxi after a night out, were driven away from their homes and faced with paying a higher fare than agreed or ‘be taken to the police station’.
The alarm was raised by Councillor Rod Laight, chairman of Bromsgrove District Council, who together with Coun Matt Dormer, Leader of Redditch Borough Council has vowed to crackdown on rogue taxi drivers.
“The vast majority of taxi firms in Redditch and Bromsgrove are very good but to some degree we are out of control of the taxis because they can come here from all over the area and operate,” said Coun Laight.
“In the one particular incident the lady had been told by the control desk the cost of the fare would be £13. She got in the cab but on the way was told it was going to be £25.
“The driver went away from the direction of her home, and she was left pleading ‘take me home, take me home’.
“She told him she only had £20 on her and the driver said ‘okay, I will take that’.
“Evidence of the incident was recorded by the woman at the time.”
Plans are now being put in place to mark Redditch and Bromsgrove taxis so passengers will know they are using a local authority-approved service and not one from out of town.
Coun Dormer said he was disgusted by what had happened to the two women, adding: “I know these are not isolated incidents and we are trying our best to address it.
“However we don’t want to tar everyone with the same brush.
“Overall the taxis in Redditch and Bromsgrove are fantastic and I do not want to discourage anyone from using our taxis but we are tightening down on the regulations to make it safer both for passengers and the drivers.”
As well as using established taxi firms in Redditch and Bromsgrove, the council offered the following advice.
n Establish the cost of the journey with the taxi controller when booking and insist on a text or email confirmation.
n When the taxi arrives, check its livery/ signage to ensure it is from the taxi company you called.
n Any attempt to change the cost should be resisted, the driver has no right to do so.
n If the driver threatens he will call the police tell him to do so, as you are not refusing to pay but objecting to the change in the agreed amount.
n If the driver continues with an intimidating or threatening manner or deviates from your route home, call the police immediately.