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16 August 2011, 06:21
You can now use a mobile phone app to check the taxi you're about to get into is genuine and licensed.
A new service has been started in Bedford, Luton, Milton Keynes and Watford. The people behind 'Am I Safe' are hoping to roll the service out to Northamptonshire and the rest of the UK within four months.
The idea behind it is that when you're about to get into a taxi or private hire vehicle, you type in the vehicle's registration number and the Am I Safe app will then tell you if the vehicle's on the local council's database.
If it isn't, an alert will be sent to police and the local council which will allow them to look into potentially unlicensed vehicles operating in their area.
As well as this check for the user, an e-mail is also sent to friends and relatives detailing the registration number of the taxi or private hire vehicle, where you typed in the registration number, and when. This means if something does go wrong, relatives have a record of where you've been, potentially allowing you to be traced more quickly.
Am I Safe founder Anthony Price-Thompson's been telling Heart Am I Safe is there to help passengers but drivers too, who are sometimes threatened by passengers.
"The thing we're trying to do is ensure that genuine passengers and genuine drivers have an ability to feel safer but equally it actually helps police the industry because the system will help report unlicensed vehicles back to the police and local authority," he said.
To join the scheme, you need to pay a one-off subscription cost of £2.99 but after that the service is free.