Published: Fri, February 16, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Uber introduces new safety features as it fights to retain London licence

Uber introduces new safety features as it fights to retain London licence

TfL's concerns include Uber's approach to carrying out background checks on drivers, and reporting serious criminal offences.

The company said it was changing its policy "after listening to feedback".

Uber has been under heavy scrutiny since Transport for London (TfL) said it will not renew its licence a year ago. "The growth of ride-sharing and other advances mean that regulation has to be fit for the next decade and not the last".

Announcing the decision for a 24-hour support line, Uber said it was "listening to feedback", and would "pro-actively" pass on serious complaints to the Metropolitan Police immediately.

Metropolition police officer Inspector Neil Billany wrote a letter to the Sunday Times in August previous year accusing Uber of failing to report sex attacks and other serious crimes committed by its drivers.

It also emphasised the - entirely reasonable - demand that crime is reported to the police and TfL "in a timely fashion to allow drivers who pose a risk to safety to be identified".

Uber responded to the accusation by outlining its policy of making a third party report to police "where a serious crime is now happening and the customer is unable to do so".

More driver info: From next month, users will be given information about their drivers' private hire licence, including the number and which authority provided the licence.

"We're now building on that with new features, like our driver hours limits, which we hope other operators will also introduce".

Instead, a spokesperson said: "Over the last few years we've led the way with pioneering technology, such as Global Positioning System tracking of every trip, which raises standards and enhances safety".

It welcomed the introduction of a phone line saying it was "in the interests of public safety and passenger convenience that all operators should enable passengers to speak to someone during their hours of business and at all times during a journey".

Helen Chapman, Interim Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: "The private hire market is unrecognisable from when current legislation was introduced".

It said this was because local authorities said it was hard for them to oversee what drivers were doing in their area if they were licensed in another part of the country. Uber appealed the decision, but Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi vowed to work with city officials to make the necessary changes that were needed to get its license back.

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