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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Airport gets tough on taxi touts
Black cabs
Licensed cabbies warn of the risks from touts
Gatwick Airport is cracking down on taxi touts who persuade passengers to pay up to five times the normal fare for short journeys.

The airport, Sussex Police and licensed taxi drivers have joined forces to warn arriving visitors of the dangers of taking an unlicensed cab.

Up to a third of the daily journeys departing from Gatwick are made by taxi touts illegally pursuing fares.

Nigel Jones, representing Gatwick Airport Drivers' Association, said: "If someone travels in an unauthorised taxi there are no guarantees that the vehicle is roadworthy or that the fare will be accurate for the journey."

'Value for money'

Passengers will be told about the risks associated with using taxi touts. For example, they may be uninsured or without MOT and could overcharge people.

A recent incident was reported where a tout charged someone 50 for a journey that would normally cost about 15.

Danny Sloan, BAA Gatwick's retail director, said: "Working together with the police, local authorities and Gatwick Airport Drivers' Association, we're determined to cut down on the number of illegal touts that operate at the airport.

"We want to ensure that anyone travelling by taxi from Gatwick does so in comfort, safety and at a price that represents value for money."

Criminal charge

Notices and tannoy announcements will advise travellers to use one of the authorised airport taxi companies.

People approached by an illegal taxi are being encouraged to contact Gatwick Police who may pass details to Crawley Borough Council, the Department of Health and Social Security as well as HM Immigration.

Suspect touts will be handed leaflets over the next few weeks highlighting the offences they are committing by illegally soliciting fares.

Touts who ignore warnings to stay away could face being banned from the airport and receive a criminal charge.

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