More bad news is on the way for driver and rider matching service Uber: hot on the heels of revelations about their drivers having to sleep in their cars, vehicles moving hundreds of miles from their licensed areas to look for business, the impasse over the company getting its operator’s licence renewed in London, and the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick, have come the figures on sexual assaults by London’s Uber drivers.
And those numbers not only look bad, but all indications suggest that they are getting worse. On top of that, the figures will be receiving much wider circulation tomorrow when the Daily Mail hits breakfast tables and news stands, as the statistics have caught the eye of hack Guy Adams. He has been on Uber’s case ever since the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre decided that the company’s behaviour had incurred his displeasure.
Dacre took exception to Uber after revelations concerning the ease at which it became established in London, and particularly the supine manner in which the capital’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson seemed to roll over in the face of the Uber PR machine - and his being leaned on by Young Dave and the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet.
Cameron and Osborne’s closeness to Rachel Whetstone, another who has now left Uber, were another item displeasing the Mail’s editor. That closeness arose mainly through her being married to Young Dave’s alleged guru Steve Hilton, now safely out of the country in West Coast USA. All of this will push the news that several Uber drivers are the subject of sexual assault allegations well up the Mail’s Monday news agenda.
So what of those numbers? Well, following an FoI request made of TfL, it has been revealed that the widely reported figure of 32 allegations of rapes and other sex attacks from 2015-16 has been eclipsed in the 2016-17 figures. Those figures, which have just been released, show that a total of 48 allegations of sexual assault, including in some cases rape, have been made against Uber drivers during that period.
That means a rate of one alleged sex assault almost every week. While it has to be conceded that some punters call any minicab “an Uber”, there is also the point that these allegations are the only ones specifying Uber - it is possible that other allegations were levelled where the complainant did not specify whether it was an Uber vehicle, because they lumped those in with other private hire operators. Swings and roundabouts.
On top of that, it has been put to me that the Metropolitan Police are investigating the possible use of TfL minicab licenses - some of which may be Uber drivers - by gangs trafficking illegal drugs, offensive and potentially illegal weapons, and sex workers around the capital. The name of a Police inspector on the investigation has been passed to Zelo Street. And much of this will be in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.
There is a good reason for taxis and minicabs to be subject to regulation, whether Uber and their cheerleaders like it or not. Now, perhaps, after Bozza, Dave and George have been swept from the scene, some action might be taken.
But by the way TfL have bent over backwards to protect Uber, I wouldn't hold your breath.