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Redbridge young people are having drugs delivered to them via minicabs and taxi-hailing apps

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:43 21 June 2018

Residents are urged to report suspicious behaviour. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Residents are urged to report suspicious behaviour. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

PA/Press Association Images

Dealers are using minicabs and taxi-hailing apps to drop off drugs to young people in Redbridge.

Taxi Driver and Chair of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Andy Kavanagh pictured with his cab in Ilford. Picture: Melissa PageTaxi Driver and Chair of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Andy Kavanagh pictured with his cab in Ilford. Picture: Melissa Page

Concerned residents have seen youths waiting for cabs, but once they arrive they do not get in but swap money for small packages.

Councillors are working with police to tackle drug dealing via private hire vehicles and are encouraging residents to report suspicious activity.

Councillor Khayer Chowdhury said in Valentines ward there have been incidents of dealers hiring a different vehicle every day to make drop-offs to their clients.

“We have been working with the safer neighbourhood team to identify hotspots,” he said.

Drivers can feel Picture PA.Drivers can feel Picture PA.

“The Valentines Safer Neighbourhood Team went undercover and made some arrests but that could only happen because residents were calling up and reporting suspicious vehicles and giving us tip-offs.”

Cllr Chowdhury is urging residents to report any suspicious vehicles and transactions down their road as it helps police paint a picture of what is going on in that area.

“You have to be quite vigilant to notice it and people might not question a minicab stopping a lot,” he said.

“It doesn’t seem odd or out of the ordinary.

“The intelligence suggests that the Uber and minicab drivers are not aware that their vehicles are being used in that way, but even when drivers do start to realise they are often too scared to report it because of repercussions.”

Andy Kavanagh, chairman of Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), has carried suspicious customers in the past and is encouraging drivers to stand up for themselves.

“You have to be brave and if you think something is going on you have to tell them to get out,” he said.

“But it’s different for me sitting in a little cab, I am separate.

“It must be so intimidating for minicab drivers as you don’t know how they are going to react or what they are going to do to you.”

Mr Kavanagh also said drivers may only realise a payment “card is hot” and the customer is involved in illicit activity at the end of the trip when it is too late.

“It would be great if there was a system in place to check the card was not on a watch list at the beginning of the journey,” he added.

MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting said: “We know there is a serious problem with ride-sharing platforms and social networking platforms being used to arrange and deliver drugs,” he said.

“This places drivers in a very precarious position.

“(Private hire companies) and their drivers have a responsibility to report suspicious and criminal activity.”

A Met Police spokesman said they work “in close partnership” with the council to tackle crime.

“Redbridge police regularly carry out patrols and operations to deal with any emerging crime issue, including drug-dealing,” he said.

“If anyone has any information of such criminal activity they ought to contact 101 or tweet @MetCC.

“Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111. In an emergency call 999.”

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