13 AUGUST 2017 • 12:44PM
Uberhas hit back at claims by the police that it has been covering up sex attacks by its drivers.
On Sunday a letter emerged accusing the firm of failing to report incidents by its drivers to the police.
Inspector Neil Billany, head of the Metropolitan Police's taxi and private hire unit, has expressed "significant concerns" that the firm is picking and choosing what it reports to the police to protect its reputation.
It alleges a driver committed a sex offence on a passenger and was allowed to continue in his job but later committed a second offence.
Uber says the first offence was when a driver hugged a passenger and the second offence involved the same driver touching a passengers leg.
It has expressed "surprise" at the letter as it says it works with the police and has even created a dedicated unit to tackling any incidents which is run by former Met officers.
In the letter, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act, the officer claims Uber is "deciding what to report" and only informing police of "less serious matters" that would be "less damaging to its reputation".
In the letter, which was originally sent to Helen Chapman the Head of Taxis and Private Hire at Tfl, Insp Billany claims the police have not been informed of six alleged sex assaults on passengers by the company, two suspected public order offences and an alleged assault.
He said the victims had been given assurances by the firm that their alleged attacks would be reported.
Uber says it up to the individual to report crimes to the police and that they will always help with follow up inquiries and "strive to get the right balance between supporting the police in their investigations, while preserving the rights of individuals".
"While we were surprised by this letter – as we don’t feel it reflects the good working relationship we have with the police and the extensive support we provide – we would welcome further collaboration and to establish how we can do more to strengthen our existing processes," a spokesman for Uber said.
"The safety of riders and drivers using the Uber app is our top priority.We use technology to bring accountability and transparency to every ride.
"Uber does not routinely report incidents retrospectively to the police on behalf of others – we advise those involved to make a report themselves and then assist the police with any subsequent enquiries.
"If there is a serious incident involving a licensed driver they are prevented from using our app. "We always inform the regulator, Tfl, when a driver is deactivated from the Uber app for any form of unsatisfactory conduct and the reason why we have done so, and work closely with them to provide any further information that would be of use."
Tfl has says the letter will form part of a review into whether Uber's licence is extended in September.
A spokesman for the Met added: "The Metropolitan Police Service will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders.
"Our dedicated taxi and private hire policing team are at the forefront of tackling illegal Taxi and Private hire activity and carry out regular operational night time deployments to target offenders.
"If anyone experiences a sexual assault of any kind we would urge them to come forward and tell police immediately.
"Equally we would expect those who run dedicated taxi and private hire vehicles to act responsibly and promptly report all serious allegations of criminal activity to police in the best interests of public safety."