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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:58 pm 
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'I was sexually assaulted by my Uber driver' - women speak out on feeling unsafe in taxis in Leeds

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/ ... eds-824845

We speak to victims who have been sexually assaulted by taxi drivers as part of an investigation into women's safety at night time in Leeds

Heading home from a night out can be risky business when you're hopping into a car driven by a complete stranger, often a little worse for wear.

Many will have been told horror stories of drivers taking advantage of their passenger having had a few too many, either financially, or worse still.

But anyone who has stood at the bottom of Briggate at 3am on a Sunday morning will know taxis are how everyone gets home after picking up a post-Call Lane McDonald's.

So to what extent are we safe?

The number of rapes in private hire taxis nearly doubled in West Yorkshire between 2015 and last year, and although sexual assaults in taxis decreased in this period, the number remains worryingly high.

Figures released by West Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 26 reports of rape connected to private hire taxis between 2017 to 2018, up from 15 in 2015 to 2016.

The number of sexual assaults reported in private taxis dropped from 40 in 2015 to 2016, to 29 in the same period two years later.

And between 2015 and 2017, ten taxi drivers in Leeds were accused of rape and 29 of sexual assault.

Aysha*, from Leeds, told how she has been harassed and even assaulted by drivers on multiple occasions.

She said: “On one occasion a taxi driver insistently questioned me about whether or not I had a boyfriend before being determined about repeatedly asking me out for dinner despite my obvious discomfort. I had to make up various excuses about why I couldn’t go.

“The worst one though was getting a taxi home after a night out and when I leaned forward from the back seat to pay the driver he clamped his mouth onto me and kissed me forcefully. I literally ran into my house and bolted the door behind. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough details to report him.

“Sometimes I’ve been kerb-crawled by men saying they were taxis offering to drive me home for free. And the number of times taxi drivers have just flirted with me is beyond counting.”

Jade Atkinson, a student living in Beeston, said she was once forced to get out of a cab and run into a nearby hotel asking for help when a driver made her feel unsafe.

The 26-year-old said: "He tried charging me triple the amount, supposedly taking advantage of the fact that he thought I was drunk.

“He became aggressive when I began questioning which led to me feeling scared and having to get out of the taxi and get to the nearest hotel reception to ask for assistance."

The launch of Uber in 2012 now means people have in-app safety features, such as sharing your trip with trusted contacts in case of emergencies.

But West Yorkshire Police still recorded four sexual assaults in Uber cabs between 2015 and 2018.

In June this year, the company settled an undisclosed figure out of court when two separate women came forward claiming they were sexually assaulted by the same Uber driver after nights out in Leeds just days apart.

The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to both of them, who recounted how in both incidents the driver put his hand on their breasts.

Katie* was assaulted on the way home from a night out in December 2015. She had reluctantly got into the front seat after finding the back seat door was locked.

"I just remember being parked on this dark road near my parents' house", she said. "He put his hand down my top. I don't remember much else - I must have blacked out because the next thing I knew I woke up hours later."

Just days later, Johanna* was assaulted by the same driver, who she confronted only to be told, "I'm a man - I need to have sex".

"I fell asleep in the taxi not long into the journey", said Johanna. "I woke up to feel something on my right breast and jumped.

"I saw his hand move quickly back onto the wheel from the corner of my eye and said, 'what the hell are you doing?' He just replied saying, 'I'm not doing anything, just driving you home'.

"I was pretty sure I wasn’t dreaming, so I tried to stay awake for most of the journey but at some point I fell back asleep.

“I woke up feeling a hand on my breast again, this time he didn’t make any attempt to move. When I confronted him, he said, ‘what love - I’m a man I need to have sex’."

The assaults meant both women no longer use taxis on their own.

Katie, who has since moved back in with her parents in Leeds, said: "It completely depleted my confidence.

"For the last year I have stopped going out completely. Since moving back home it would mean taking the same route home I did that night, so I just don’t go out at all or leave at about 10pm and pretend I have an early start."

No criminal charges were brought against the Uber driver, who it was found had been using his brother's Uber driver login at the time. However, the driver did have his licence revoked and was forced to pay £1,500 in fees.

A spokeswoman for the company said following the settlement: "There is no place for this kind of behaviour in the Uber community. We take all reports very seriously and investigate thoroughly.

"We typically 'waitlist' drivers during investigations and if the allegations prove true, an individual would likely face permanent deactivation. We work closely with the police to assist with any investigation."

A spokeswoman from the National Private Hire Association told the YEP that while a small number of local authorities in the country did not do enough to penalise taxi drivers found operating outside the licencing zone, the majority of councils such as Leeds City Council took a hard stance on drivers who did not abide by licencing regulations.

Leeds City Council's public safety body, Safer Leeds, said conditions for taxi and private hire drivers were "some of the strongest in the country".

A spokeswoman said: "All new drivers are required to pass driver training before they can be licensed, which includes training on literacy, legislation, local knowledge and customer care. All drivers and operators, not just new drivers, are required to undertake safeguarding training, so that they are aware of their responsibilities to keep passengers safe, and all current drivers and operators are required to have a current Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check, to register with the national DBS service, and to report any arrests, cautions and convictions.

“Leeds has a successful, safe and vibrant night time economy, as recognised by the city centre’s award of Purple Flag status in 2016, and reaccreditation in February 2018. We are committed to ensuring the city remains a safe place for everyone, especially at night, and especially for vulnerable people.

“We work very closely with locally licensed taxi and private hire drivers and operators, and welcome feedback and comments about people’s experiences in Leeds. We take a robust approach to complaints from passengers, and would always investigate where appropriate.

“I would also urge people to read the information provided by the council about what steps people can take to make sure they are safe when booking a private hire or hailing a taxi.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of sexual assault victims


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:00 pm 
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Quote:
The number of rapes in private hire taxis nearly doubled in West Yorkshire between 2015 and last year, and although sexual assaults in taxis decreased in this period, the number remains worryingly high.

Figures released by West Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 26 reports of rape connected to private hire taxis between 2017 to 2018, up from 15 in 2015 to 2016.

The number of sexual assaults reported in private taxis dropped from 40 in 2015 to 2016, to 29 in the same period two years later.


So the number of 'sex attacks' was actually static between the two periods at 55. I wonder if there's been a change in how these thing are recorded, which might explain why rapes have increased significantly, but sexual assaults have decreased by a similar number :-k

And no figures for HCs? Didn't they ask?

Quote:
And between 2015 and 2017, ten taxi drivers in Leeds were accused of rape and 29 of sexual assault.


Sounds a lot, and more than I would have guessed. But these are simply accusations, so how many were prosecuted, and how many were convicted?

And the number refers to 'taxis'. Is this still 'private taxis', or HCs, or both?

Quote:
A spokeswoman from the National Private Hire Association told the YEP that while a small number of local authorities in the country did not do enough to penalise taxi drivers found operating outside the licencing zone, the majority of councils such as Leeds City Council took a hard stance on drivers who did not abide by licencing regulations.


:-s Not really sure what the point is here, which seems a bit off-topic as regards the main thrust of the article. A bit like the point about SUD surveys in the Bradford piece about double yellow lines.

Not sure if the NPHA just trying to deflect here, or if maybe the journalist has focused on the more irrelevant aspects of a more comprehensive NPHA statement.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:09 pm 
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And who are committing these crimes?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:20 pm 
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still 55 too many :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:15 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
Quote:
And between 2015 and 2017, ten taxi drivers in Leeds were accused of rape and 29 of sexual assault.


Sounds a lot, and more than I would have guessed. But these are simply accusations, so how many were prosecuted, and how many were convicted?

When one considers that only between 15 and 23% (depending on who's stats you take) of sexual assaults are reported, then 29 rape reports, and 29 sexual assault reports is quite significant. And depressingly sad.

As for how many of those reports lead to a conviction, I suspect not many. Clearly some of those accusations are lies as we have seen on TDO for a number of years, but most of those not reaching court is down to a lack of evidence.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:16 pm 
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Nidge2 wrote:
And who are committing these crimes?

Scumbags.

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