A SUSPECTED bogus private hire car has been filmed touring the city trying to pick up Hogmanay revellers – sparking safety fears.
The red Volkswagen Touran with a pre-booked sticker on one door but no official plates was spotted in Elm Row and York Place.
Private hire cars must be registered and cannot pick fares up off the street. Two sex attacks have been linked to unlicensed cars in the past year.
A black cab driver captured the footage on his dashcam before confronting the driver and reporting it to police.
“I spotted him in Elm Row and ten minutes later in York Place, looking like he was going to pick up from the casino. He saw me and he took off,” said the 48-year-old cabbie.
He tailed the VW along Queen Street and through back streets before finally catching up with the driver in Chester Street.
“I got a torrent of abuse from him,” said the taxi driver of 25 years. “He said he’d only bought the car yesterday and it already had the sticker on.”
Ali McPherson, of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, called for better regulation amid concerns for public safety.
“The first thing is, people need to realise these cars aren’t taxis – they can’t stop on the streets,” said Mr McPherson.
“The council should have enforcement teams out – Glasgow does but we don’t. They should be out checking on private hires and taxis as well.
“What does it take? I’m scared for my own kids as well,” said father-of-three Mr McPherson.
Last February, a 19-year-old student was raped after getting into a car in the Grassmarket after a night out. And in August, another 19-year-old was sexually assaulted after getting into a car she thought was a private hire in Regent Road.
“We’ve had sexual assaults, does it take a murder? It’s nonsense and so frightening,” said Mr McPherson.
The city council sought to assure that an enforcement team was out throughout December with just over 1770 licensed private hire cars on the Capital’s roads. Licensing Sub-Committee Convener, Councillor Cathy Fullerton, said all licensed private hire drivers undergo full police vetting and a medical check.
“In addition, our enforcement team works in conjunction with Police Scotland to carry out regular duties to ensure the safety of customers,” added Cllr Fullerton.
“We would strongly encourage all members of the public to make sure they get into licensed taxis or pre-book their private hire car journey.”
Passengers can request to see a copy of the licence and the drivers’ identification issued by the council after being vetted.
A police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating a report of a possible bogus private hire taxi operating in the Edinburgh area on December 31 and January 1. Inquiries are ongoing.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Gayfield Police Station via 101, quoting incident number 4778 of January 1.