Why are the Metropolitan Police unclear about this issue?

Revellers are being reminded that failing to pay their taxi fare could land them in jail.

The number of people who made off without paying shot up this year, with 50 incidents reported to the police between January and September, up from 19 in the same period last year.

Now, as cabbies gear up for their busiest time of year, police and licensing officers are handing them stickers for their cars to remind passengers of their responsibility to pay up.

Chief Inspector Nadeem Mir, from the Greater Manchester Police Rochdale Division, said: “We have seen a 38 per cent increase in people leaving taxis without paying their fare and this is theft, plain and simple. We know there will be huge number of people using taxis to get around over the festive period, but they need to be warned that the penalty for non-payment can be up to six months in prison. Anyone who attempts to steal from people who are simply going about their job could end up spending Christmas in a jail cell.”

Licensing and police officers have also produced a free handbook for all drivers which contains information on how they can keep themselves safe while they’re out on the road and how to report crimes, as well as advice on health and wellbeing.

Taxi driver Suleman Ahmed said: “Recently a well-dressed man got in my car, asked me to drive him three to four miles to a ginnel and promptly got out and ran off. Not paying a fare is like asking someone to work for three or four hours and not paying them a wage for it; it’s shameful. It’s happening a lot now and it’s putting decent taxi drivers off working in Rochdale.”

The police and council have also made it easier for taxi drivers to report these types of incidents by working with the trade to take statements at a time which is convenient for the drivers, which will not involve them having to take time off and lose money.

Councillor Cecile Biant, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’re working closely with our colleagues in the police to remind travellers that it’s simply unacceptable to refuse to pay for the service you have been given; this is somebody’s livelihood. And dispute over the fare is not a good enough reason not to pay. Taxi drivers do an important job transporting our residents safely across the borough, and they deserve to be treated with respect.”