sydney morning herald

sydney morning herald

There is a bearded man arresting Uber drivers all over Sydney and he means business

5h ago
SOURCE  

Description

A vigilante hire-car driver has threatened to perform five citizen's arrests a day until the NSW Government cracks down on hire-car company Uber. Former UK riot police officer Russel Howarth told ninemsn he would use "the minimum required force" with any driver who resisted or tried to assault him, which could include things like wrist locks to ensure "immediate pain and compliance". This morning the Sydney Morning Herald released a video they'd taken of a ride-along with the vigilante, where he booked a car through the service to Star Casino, then attempted to arrest the driver. The situation became tense when Mr Howarth confronted Uber's Australian operations manager Glenn O'Sullivan, who had arrived on the scene. "Do not interfere with this arrest," Mr Howarth warned Mr O'Sullivan, shaking a finger in his face. Mr Howarth said that Uber staff had located him by listening to the conversation in his cab through the Uber app. "I have an insider at Uber who told me that they were there within five minutes, and that they were listening in to the conversation." "They would have been a) tracking the car, and b) listening in on the conversation, which they can do," he said. It was the eighth citizen's arrest Mr Howarth has made of an Uber X Driver, he says. He said that police had supported him in all but two of the altercations. But the so far his arrests have not resulted in a single driver being charged or prosecuted. A NSW police spokesperson said that the matter was one they were currently investigating, and declined to give details due to the active status of the investigation. Ninemsn understands that there have been no charges laid or police-led arrests made as a result of the investigation at this point. Mr Howarth said that RMS officials were going to be working with him this week to enforce the law. "There's got to be different levels of insurance, and driving without it would invalidate your green slip." Last month, Mr Howarth conducted a citizen's arrest on a driver who he asked to take him to Newtown police station, according to Gizmodo. At the time, he said that his arrests were not "stunts", and that he had news crews ready to film them. His campaign began after he parted ways with the company, which he formerly partnered with as a licensed hire driver. "I thought 'I am not going to be a part of this lie'," he said. "Can you imagine if it happened in another regulated industry? If I said 'I'm going to open an Uber-pub and sell $2 Coronas 24/7? I'd be amazed if the government allowed that to happen." "They're refusing to uphold the laws that they themselves enacted." The ride-sharing service, which offers consumers an alternative to traditional taxis, as well as letting drivers use their own cars as hire vehicles, has angered cabbies and other hire drivers – some of whom work for Uber's top-tier "black" service. The NSW Government has promised heavy fines for drivers caught working for Uber without the proper licenses and clearances. "Here in NSW we have been very clear that it is illegal for drivers to participate in what we call 'ride-sharing' activities like uberX," Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Roads and Maritime Services has issued several fines of thousands of dollars for those breaking the law and RMS will also be initiating legal action before the end of the year against motorists engaged in driving for uberX." But the Government's finance minister Dominic Perottet has previously spoken of his support for services like Uber and AirBnB, calling them "the free market on steroids" and saying that the "sharing economy" is "an efficient use of resources and the uptake so far already shows that the market has spoken. My view is that governments should not stand in the way of this change but seek to facilitate it." The company's entry into the New South Wales market comes against a background of long-lasting consumer dissatisfaction with existing tax...