PEOPLE going on festive nights out are being warned to be careful of “pirate” and illegal cab drivers.

With more people out in pubs and clubs in December, the Unite union has started a campaign to help ensure people don’t take risks with unlicensed drivers.

It wants to clamp down on people posing as taxi drivers and on rogue licensed drivers flouting the rules on pick-ups.

Unite has launched the “Know what you’re getting into” campaign to highlight the risks of getting in an unlicensed car.

It will see hundreds of cabs in Glasgow and Edinburgh with posters and leaflets, and messages on social media.

The next two weekends will be among the busiest nights of the year for taxis.

Unite has been trying to crack down in pirating, which sees private hire cab drivers breach their licence conditions and invalidate their insurance by picking up fares on the street.

Unite are reminding people that they need to pre-book a licensed private hire car and can only hail licensed taxis on the street.

And they want people to ensure the driver is legitimate by checking their identification which must be displayed in the car.

Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish Secretary, said: “Unite’s Glasgow and Edinburgh taxi branch members are sending a vital and important safety message to all who use taxi cabs and private hire vehicles during the festivities.

“The message is simple: stay safe.

We are urging all users of taxis to ensure that you pre-book your taxicab or private hire vehicle, and if you hail on the street it must only be a licensed cab.

December campaign bid to end use of ‘pirate’taxis “If you have not pre-booked or you are not using a licensed cab you are just getting into a stranger’s car.”

Over the past five years more than 100 drivers have had their licence suspended by Glasgow City Council for pirating.

Earlier this year the chair of the city’s licensing committee, Councillor Alex Wilson, said the problem was more widespread than the figures show as the numbers are only those reported for the offence.

He said more enforcement officers would be needed and a change in the law to give the council more powers to take tougher action.

Taxi drivers have called for pirating to be a criminal offence.

Unite’s Cab section called for the action to stop drivers picking up hires in the street.

There are 1420 active taxis operating in Glasgow and 3600 private hire cars.

Unite want a system where it is a criminal offence and points can be applied to the driver’s licence which will act as a deterrent – as it will affect their insurance premium and even the ability to get insurance to work as a driver.