Uber continued employing a driver after he sexually assaulted a passenger, only for him to seriously attack another woman as it’s revealed firm failed to report 48 serious crimes.
Police have also accused the company of obstructing investigations.
It is facing a licence review in London, one of the 20 British cities in which it operates and its biggest European market.
Head of the Metropolitan police’s taxi and private hire unit Neil Billany said Uber, which has a presence in 633 cities worldwide, seemed to be ‘deciding what [crimes] to support’ in a letter seen by The Sunday Times.
He spoke of a ‘significant concern’ that Uber was only reporting ‘less serious matters’ that would be ‘less damaging to [its] reputation’.
He accused Uber of ‘allowing situations to develop that clearly affect the safety and security of the public’ by keeping drivers’ crimes from police — including at least six sexual assaults on passengers.
In at least one of the sex cases, Uber continued to employ the driver, who then carried out a more serious sexual assault on a second woman passenger.
Mr Billany said two public order offences and an assault also went unreported.
‘Had Uber notified police after the first offence, it would be right to assume the second would have been prevented.
‘The victims complained to Uber and were left “strongly under the impression” it would tell police, but it did not do so.’
Neil Billany’s letter, which was obtained by an FOI from Caroline Pidgeon, says Uber is covering up sex attacks
In the year to February 2017, Scotland Yard recorded 48 alleged sexual assaults by Uber drivers, most of which were reported by passengers.
Others allegations were made through Transport for London (TfL), the capital’s regulator.
Mr Billany said the failure to report public order cases meant it was too late to prosecute by the time word reached police.
Caroline Pidgeon said the incidents mentioned in the letter were ‘deeply concerning’
His letter to TfL’s head of taxis and private hire, Helen Chapman, was dated 17 April 2017 and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the London Assembly’s transport committee.
She said the incidents were ‘deeply concerning’.
‘This apparent cover-up of reports about such serious criminal activity is shameful.’
TfL called the failure to report ‘totally unacceptable’ and said it will form ‘part of the consideration’ about whether Uber’s licence is extended past September 30 after being renewed in May.
Caroline Pidgeon said the firm’s apparent failure to report the assaults was ‘shameful’
The letter revealed a road rage incident classified as a firearms offence.
The driver took ‘what the passenger believed to be a handgun from the glovebox and left the vehicle to pursue the other party on foot’.
The ‘gun’ turned out to be ‘pepper spray … legally classified as a firearm’, whose possession ‘clearly appears to be a criminal offence’.
Uber ‘refused to provide any further information’ without a formal request under the Data Protection Act when police asked for more details.
The firm said the ‘pepper spray’ was actually a legal can of criminal identifier spray.
It claims to have helped police when asked and called said the refusal was due to a misunderstanding.
A spokesperson for Uber said it reports all incidents to TfL.
‘We were surprised by this letter as in no way does it reflect the good working relationship we have with the police.
‘We advise people to report serious incidents to the police and support any subsequent investigations, but respect the rights of individuals to decide whether or not to make such reports.’