'Total disbelief' and calls for Jersey's police chief to resign over illegal taxi comments

  • An ITV News investigation has uncovered how hundreds of illegal taxis trips are being requested in Jersey each month through social media

Jersey's most senior police officer is under pressure from taxi drivers to resign after he made controversial comments about how to tackle the issue of illegal ride-sharing.

Robin Smith told a panel of politicians that "enforcement will not fix" the issue of so-called "lifts" and added it is "not black and white".

The island's Taxi Drivers Association responded in "total disbelief", saying it "raises serious concerns about the commitment of the local police force to uphold the law".

The group added: "If our current Police Chief cannot enforce our laws, then he is in the wrong job and he should resign."

Mr Smith declined to comment on the calls for his resignation.

It comes as an ITV News investigation has uncovered how hundreds of these trips are being organised through social media groups each month.

The issue has been ongoing for more than a decade, with strangers offering rides for money without the proper licences or checks.

Those who ask for a lift from strangers say they are more available and cheaper than legitimate taxis, especially at peak times.

Authorities have previously warned residents repeatedly over safety concerns but ITV News has discovered how these popular rides are still being run in plain sight.

Hundreds of unlicensed taxis are booked in Jersey each month through social media. Credit: ITV Channel

The most prominent ride-sharing group has around 12,000 members - more than 10% of Jersey's population - with requests for school pick-ups, hospital drop-offs and even lifts from the police station.

'Maya' - whose name we have changed - offers lifts through the group and says it can be a vital source of income during the current cost of living crisis.

She explained: "It really helps you out, it can save you during some months.

"I don't know if it's fully legal or not, I don't know what the repercussions would be."

One driver told ITV News she can make up to £100 a night by offering paid lifts to strangers. Credit: ITV Channel

People offering lifts for profit - above £0.60 per mile - are breaking the law in Jersey as they are deemed to be operating a cab service without the correct licence, which also invalidates their insurance.

In a statement, Jersey Police said: "We have an open working relationship with the Jersey Taxi Drivers Association and have met and discussed the issues associated.

"So far over 100 drivers believed to be partaking in [the group] have been identified and spoken with."

Police chief Robin Smith told ITV News officers recently arrested a man, 38, on suspicion of five motoring offences - including not having the "authority to drive public service vehicles" which is the charge associated with illegally providing commercial lifts.

He is due to appear before Jersey's Magistrates Court on Wednesday 3 January 2024.

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