A new report from Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police has revealed that almost half of the drivers convicted of sexual assault in London last year drove an Uber
From being deemed unfit to operate in London to losing an appeal arguing that its drivers shouldn’t have minimum-wage rights, the ride-hailing unicorn Uber has certainly seen better days on these shores. And now it seems like the startup’s reputation has received another battering with new data from Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police revealing that more Uber drivers were convicted for sexual assaults committed in 2016 than those from any other private-hire company.
According to the report, there were 164 reported sexual assaults conducted by taxi and private-hire drivers in 2016, up from 136 in 2015. This 20.6% jump was the largest increase seen since 2002. However, only 34 offences lead to drivers being charged because of reasons including an inability to trace and identify the perpetrator, insufficient evidence to charge a suspect and victims being reluctant to proceed with a prosecution.
In total, 25 drivers have been charged for sexual assault in 2016, with some conducting multiple offences. None of the charged drivers drove a black cab. So far 12 drivers have been convicted, eight have been found not guilty and five drivers are still awaiting trial. Of the drivers charged with a crime, 13 drove for Uber; of these, five were convicted, five were found not guilty and three are still awaiting trial.
Commenting on the report, an Uber spokesperson said: “We take any allegations of this nature very seriously, immediately preventing drivers from using our app and supporting the police with their investigations. All drivers who use our app in London are licensed by Transport for London and have gone through the same enhanced DBS checks as black cab drivers. Our GPS technology also means that every trip – more than two million in London each week – is electronically tracked and recorded.”
The news comes as Uber is gearing up to appeal TfL’s decision to not renew the startup’s license to operate in London, with the first hearing reportedly being scheduled for the beginning of December. But whether or not the company can persuade the courts to repeal the decision, it seems like the startup still has some polishing to do before its reputation can reclaim its former shine.