In February this year, after hearing that there had been an increase in complaints against licensed Taxi drivers using the rank at Putney Station, I placed an FOI request asking TfL to give me just the monthly totals of complaints for the 12 months Jan-Dec 2013.
As TfL had freely supplied this information regarding complaints made against Taxi Drivers at Finsbury Park and Paddington Station, I didn't see any problem making a simple request for the information required.
Dear Transport for London,
Could you please give me the total number of complaints made between the dates 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2013 by members of the public, against licensed Taxi drivers using the licensed
taxi rank in Putney High Street, outside of Putney station.
If records are not yet available to December 2013 could you please
give details up to and including the the most recent month to December2013.
Simple I thought, but I was wrong!
After much to-ing and thro-ing I have just received the out come if an internal inquiry as TfL have continued to deny my request.
I have been accused of phishing for information, making a vexatious request, deliberately trying to engage staff in time wasting, with no purpose to my request.
All I asked for was the monthly total of complaints, made in 2013 against taxi drivers at a Putney Station.
To top the disingenuous allegations made against me, I was further told that when complaints are made against drivers the location is not recorded. How can this be if a complaint is location based?
"To reiterate, when we record a complaint we do not record the location where the incident took place and therefore we could not simply extract and provide the information requested in your request "
Preferring to the information received re: Finsbury Park, I was informed:
The panel noted that you referred to a previous response send to a different applicant on 1 November 2014 and queried why this was answerable but your request was not.
Having looked into this we can confirm that the information provided did not actually relate to passenger complaints. They related to Taxi parking and other issues around the taxi rank at Finsbury Park which were held as a result of some monitoring work.
The email concluded with the passage:
The request was interpreted to be in respect of customer complaints about the service
provided from these ranks since your request specifically asked for;
“complaints made ... by members of the public, against licensed Taxi drivers using the licensed taxi rank in Putney High Street, outside of Putney station”.
We are unable to confirm, at present, what information an amended search might identify (if any) but you are welcome to submit an amended request for this information if it is of interest.
If you are dissatisfied with the internal review actions to date you can refer the matter to the independent authority responsible for enforcing the Freedom of Information Act.
To be honest, I wasn't trying to blacken anyone or any groups name, I was trying to clear up a statement made on the forum, that there had been more complaints last year (2013) against drivers on the Putney rank, than against drivers at Heathrow.
I couldn't just see this to be true and thought this to be an exaggeration.
I decided the only way to find the truth was through an FOI request. TfL themselves have in the past told me to check my facts properly before posting articles, rather than relying on statements made by third parties. So that's exactly what I was doing, checking the facts.
No underhandedness, no vexatiousness, no phishing intended, just trying to clear up a statement made which I thought to be an exaggeration.
For them to say that when a complaint is made by a customer against a driver, no location is recorded, is a lie.
Other drivers have told my that when complaints have been made against them, they have been sent a form with clear headings on:
Colour of taxi
Description (including gender)
Location/Start of journey
TfL are a public body and as such have a duty to be open and transparent. The present administration is being run more like a private company, leading people to believe they have something to hide.
In their instance, have we seen the actions of an open and transparent licensing authority?....I think not.
Misleading, you bet!
It now makes you wonder, just what TfL are trying to hide about complaints at Putney High Street?