Earlier this week I attended a very interesting presentation from a senior Metropolitan Police officer at a GMB branch meeting. The subject was Operation Make Safe, an awareness campaign to help educate key consumer service workers on the signs of possible child sexual exploitation in vulnerable young people who may pass our line of site.
The good officer thought this might be a mere recapping exercise since according to him, TfL, Addison Lee and Uber had been briefed and had agreed to cascade the programme to drivers. He thought this had already happened and we drivers would be well aware of the programme. There was soon a collective sense of dismay and disbelief in the room when we all quickly realized that none of the above operators had done any such thing.
Ironic then that just a few days later Uber was running a high media profile campaign in partnership with Save the Children to collect materials for vulnerable families caught in the current migrant crisis.
Besides the obvious neglect of civic duty it was a missed opportunity for all to engage and educate drivers for a cause of common good. I’m sure all drivers would have appreciated the information and the request to assist in looking out for vulnerable. I have no doubt that the vast majority do this anyway without need for prompting but the engagement could have been a real trust builder. Trust has been badly eroded by the contradicting actions of TfL by over supplying the market with private hire licenses and then launching Operation Neon against us because too many of us are apparently clogging up the city.
Contrast and consider instead the actions of TfL’s board member Michael Liebreich who chose to comprehend private hire drivers as ‘potential sex attackers’. Imagine if instead he and others had chosen to ask us for our help to be vigilant and to be guardians of the public. Imagine if we were respectfully asked to help police the streets and watch out for the vulnerable. I know most drivers do already go above and beyond to take care of their passengers and the public. It just would have been nice to be asked and recognized for our role in doing just that.
I hope TfL, Addison Lee, Uber and any other operator asked to cooperate with Operation Make Safe will now do so without any further delay. And if you’re a driver, don’t wait – download and read all the training materials which you can find here.