Girwel Singh has to be either a Blue or a Manchester United fan. The Liverpool based cabbie has been hit with a hefty £600 fine plus costs. He was overcharging Liverpool FC fans on matchdays. Mr Singh was caught as part of an ongoing city council crackdown called Operation Topaz, which aims to protect the public from matchday taxi scams.
36-year-old Girwel Singh appeared before Liverpool Magistrates and the court was told of what had occurred. Singh was parked on Walton Breck Road, close to Anfield Stadium, for Liverpool’s home match against Burnley in March. Undercover council licensing officers, who were patrolling as part of Operation Topaz, witnessed Singh talking with a group of passengers before letting them into his car.
As Singh’s taxi pulled away officers noticed his meter was not switched on. He was then followed to The Hilton Hotel in Liverpool City Centre and spoke to him as his passengers got out.
When asked why he had not switched his meter on, Singh claimed the group were his friends and he was not charging them for the trip. But a conversation with the passengers revealed that Singh had quoted them £20 for the journey, which would have cost just £7.50 with the meter on.
During the incident, the officers also noticed that Singh was not wearing his official badge, which is also an offence. Singh, of Plummer Street, Liverpool, admitted the offences and was ordered to pay a total of £600 in fines and costs.
Operation Topaz has been specifically designed to protect football fans from being exploited by unscrupulous drivers on match days.
Typical offences include private hire drivers accepting fares that have not been pre-booked and Hackney drivers not switching the meter on.
In most cases, the passengers are charged excessive amounts for journeys into the city centre or to the airport.
Last season 17 hackney carriage drivers were reported for demanding higher fares than they would have received from a metered trip. A further 18 private hire drivers were reported for ‘plying for hire’ – which means they agreed to take a fare that had not been booked in advance.
In other recent cases under Operation Topaz, Wirral private hire driver Nasir Uddin was ordered to pay £475 in fines and costs and given six points for plying for hire and driving without insurance. Whilst private hire driver Mohammed Rafiqul Islam also from Wirral had to pay £525 in fines and costs and given six points for the same offences.