Uber safety: "Lax" background checks slammed as convicted criminals allowed to become drivers

Clara Guibourg
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Uber: No security system is perfect (Source: Getty)

Background checks by taxi-hailing app Uber have come under fire, after California prosecutors slammed it for security routines so lax that convicted sex offenders and even murderers were allegedly allowed to become drivers.

California prosecutors are widening a civil lawsuit they originally brought against Uber in December last year, alleging that the company misleads customers about how thoroughly security scans are conducted.

George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney, said at a news conference about the suit that he “supports technical innovation”:

Innovation, however, does not give companies a licence to mislead consumers about issues affecting their safety.

In California alone, 25 drivers were found to have criminal records, with everything from kidnappers, identity thieves and burglars to sex offenders and murderers on Uber’s roster.

Read more: Londoners love taxi apps - but think Black Cabs will still be around in 20 years

Several of the company’s drivers have previously been accused of assault or sexual assault, and Uber was temporarily banned in India after a cab driver was accused of raping a female passenger in a highly-publicised case.

An Uber spokesperson told City A.M. that safety was a top priority for the company, pointing out that driver checks in the UK are very different from the US system:

All Uber partner-drivers must undergo rigorous screening, including background and driving history checks, before they can join the Uber platform. In the UK all partner-drivers are fully licensed by the local authority As such they all undergo the same vetting process all taxi and cab drivers go through, this includes an enhanced DBS check.

The company also pointed out that it recently beefed up its security team fourfold and rejected over 600 people from becoming drivers last year, because they had been convicted of drunk driving or violent crimes.

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