The London Metropolitan police has accused Uber of allowing a driver to continue in service because they did not report him after he sexually assaulted a passenger.
Inspector Neil Billany of the Metropolitan police’s taxi and private hire team suggested that the company was putting concerns for its reputation over public safety.
“Had Uber notified police after the first offence, it would be right to assume that the second would have been prevented,” the inspector wrote in his letter to Helen Chapman, head of taxis and private hire at Transport for London (TfL).
The driver said that despite allegations of sexual assault, Uber did nothing, and this led the driver to attack another woman in his car.
The inspector also wrote that the company had refused to provide information unless it was formally requested under data protection laws. They were picking and choosing what to report to the police, so as to protect their reputation.
Uber told the Sunday Times that it refused to help due to a misunderstanding.
“We were surprised by this letter as in no way does it reflect the good working relationship we have with the police. We advise people to report serious incidents to the police and support any subsequent investigations, but respect the rights of individuals to decide whether or not to make such reports," it said.
Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick recently stepped down from the company he founded. Uber has been under scrutiny for its lack of action against those who complained of sexual harassment. Susan Fowler wrote about how her complaints had been ignored by her superiors, following which the company set up a hotline for complaints. The firm has received 215 complaints, and has 57 under investigation by law firm Perkins Cole.
In India, the company has been under flak for sharing medical records of a rape case victim, and for negligent drivers.