A cab industry spokesman argues that more needs to be done — including installing mandatory video cameras — to protect vulnerable women travelling alone in UberX vehicles. Kristine Hubbard, of Beck Taxi, criticized the city — which licenses Uber —, for failing to mandate that UberX vehicles be equipped with surveillance cameras and for relying on company to perform its own criminal background checks on drivers. She insisted that such measures would prevent assaults. “I think people tend to report to Uber rather than to report to the police … It’s becoming really concerning for the desensitization effect. It’s just another day, another incident,” she said.
“I think there has been a false sense of safety that has been created in our city because the City of Toronto says they’ve regulated them, so people assume it’s safe.” In the past six months, there have been at least three alleged sex assaults involving Uber drivers and their female passengers.
Recently Toronto Police arrested a 41-year-old Toronto man, Fahmy Saggaf, after a 15-year-old girl complained she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver on Jan. 25. The driver allegedly tried to take her to a private location, but the girl escaped and called police. “We normally advise people to be aware of their surroundings, if there’s any cause for concern to act immediately and call police,” said police spokesman Mark Pugash. “I’m not going to get drawn into things (like cameras) that are really the subject of licensing’s area of responsibility.”
The city’s municipal licensing and standards department said Uber drivers are subject to the same criminal background checks, driver screening and insurance requirements as their counterparts in the taxi industry. Uber Canada said if an allegation is reported, the company will remove a driver’s access to the app, pending an investigation. “In this case, we have worked with TPS to provide information and have permanently removed this driver’s access,” said an Uber spokesman. “This is a horrifying report.”