Dundee taxi drivers may be forced to ask for payment up-front following a spate of passengers running off without paying their fares, a union has said.
Police Scotland has pledged to crack down on the problem while taxi drivers themselves are also resolving to take matters into their own hands.
Chris Elder, Unite taxi drivers rep, said in the past month city drivers had reported a marked rise in passengers refusing to pay the money they were due.
He said: “In the past four weeks there have been around nine instances of people taking off without paying their fare.
“In some cases, the taxi drivers have been due substantial amounts, including £20 and £30 fares.
“This is a lot of money for a taxi driver to lose and something has to be done about it.”
Mr Elder said the problem is occurring all over Dundee. He said: “In some cases a passenger just takes off from the taxi at the end of a journey without paying. Sometimes they claim they are going into a house to get money and simply don’t come back out.
“In many cases they have disappeared into a block of flats and there is no way the driver can then find them. This has happened to me but I have CCTV in my taxi so it’s easy to trace people. However, out of a fleet of around 620 taxis in Dundee only a handful have cameras.
“This is something that we need to look into further.”
Mr Elder said another option open to taxi drivers was to charge a fare up-front.
He said: “This can sometimes happen on longer journeys but it’s not really something the majority of taxi drivers want to have to start on shorter journeys around the city.
“It’s something we may be forced to look at if this problem gets worse.”
Mr Elder said that in the meantime taxi drivers had sought the help of police who he said assured him that anyone doing this is guilty of committing an offence. He said: “They have said that passengers who do not pay their fare when hiring a taxi will be prosecuted through the courts.
“They have confirmed that non-payment of a taxi fare will be dealt with as a criminal offence and not as a civil matter.”