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Taxi passenger safety guidance

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The following information offers tips for passengers on how to stay safe when using private hire and hackney carriage vehicles:

The difference between Hackney carriage and Private Hire Vehicles:

It is important to know the difference between a hackney carriage and a private hire vehicle:

  • Hackneys (commonly referred to as black cabs, though they are not always black) are the taxis that you will see lined up at taxi ranks. You don't need to pre book these and can flag them down in the street. Hackney's usually have a light on the roof to signal when they are available for hire. In Preston, they will also have a white licence plate on both the front and the rear of the vehicle. They may have the word "Taxi" printed somewhere on the vehicle.
  • A Private hire vehicle may only take passengers if they have been pre-booked through a private hire operator, either through an app, by calling or by attending the office in person. Private Hire vehicles may not be flagged down in the street, and you may be putting yourself in danger by getting into any vehicle that offers you a ride after you have flagged it down. Private hire vehicles do not have to be licensed by Preston City Council, and different councils have different markings, but all of them should have a plate or disk identifying the vehicle as a private hire, and there should be a notice on the outside of the vehicle stating that you are only insured if you have pre booked the vehicle. A private hire vehicle should not have the word Taxi anywhere on the vehicle.

Both private hire vehicles and hackney carriages will get you from a to b, but it is important for your safety that you ensure the vehicle is a genuine, licensed vehicle.

Identifying the vehicle and driver

  • Before getting into any taxi or private hire, it is important to obtain some identifying information for the vehicle. If possible, use your phone to take a picture of the vehicle registration number and the vehicle licence plate. This will help to identify the vehicle should you need to, even if its just something as simple as lost property. It is also helpful to remember which operator you used, if you've booked a private hire.
  • Once in the vehicle, it is perfectly fine to ask the driver to show you their badge. A genuine, licensed driver won't mind showing it to you. All drivers must be licensed by the same local authority as their vehicle, and they must have either a hackney or private hire driver licence, depending on the type of vehicle. Take a photo of the driver's badge for easy identification should you need to later.
  • If you wish to check if a Preston City Council vehicle or driver licence is genuine, you can check the councils public register.


  • The maximum fare a hackney carriage can charge is set by Preston City Council, for more information visit the Taxi fares, ranks and accessibility page.
  • All hackney carriages are fitted with a meter, and this should be used on all journeys within the boundaries of Preston City. If your journey ends outside of the boundaries, the driver can set the amount of the fare but an agreement should be reached before the start of the journey. If no agreement is reached, then the meter should always be used.
  • Private Hire operators are able to set their own fares. They will still have a "meter" but this will usually be a PDA device.
  • There should be a list of fares on display inside any licensed vehicle. If you do not see one, feel free to ask the driver.
  • Drivers can ask for a payment up front. However, this is not instead of a meter being used. If any payment is made up front, then any shortfall should be paid to the driver at the end of the journey, or any change given back by the driver.
  • You should never give any personal belongings, such as a phone, to the driver as a guarantee of payment. The driver cannot ask you to do this, but should you choose to anyway, ensure you are given a receipt.

Other safety tips

  • Check that the doors and windows work correctly on the vehicle.
  • Do not give any personal details to the driver.
  • Never admit if you are travelling or live alone.
  • Track your journey on your phone's map app, and turn on the location settings on your phone.
  • Call a friend or family member to give them the details of your journey.
  • Trust your instinct

If you wish to complain or submit a compliment regarding a Preston City Council licensed vehicle, driver or operator, please view taxi complaints and compliments.

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