UberX drivers in Australia are facing the prospect of a citizen’s arrest every time they try to pick up a fare due to one private hire car driver taking the law into his own hands.
Russell Howarth, who is a former riot police officer, founded the Arresting Uber campaign last month that looks to make the public aware of unlicensed Uber drivers that he told IB Times are “illegal” under Australian law.
"Almost all of the arrests have followed the same pattern. The drivers complied and all said that they wouldn't have driven if they knew it was illegal,” Howarth said.
The Australian government is specifically cracking down on UberX drivers that use their own cars to offer a taxi service and the country has stated that any unlicensed drivers face fines of up to AUD $100,000 [£60,000].
"Here in New South Wales we have been very clear that it is illegal for drivers to participate in what we call 'ride-sharing' activities like UberX," Australian Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement.
Howarth makes the “arrests” by requesting a pick up from an UberX driver by using the app and once they arrive he informs of their illegal activities before passing details onto the police. Since Howarth’s campaign got underway, there have been five other private hire car drivers based in Sydney that have expressed a willingness to join his campaign to arrest drivers.
"As an individual I can't stop them but I'm reluctant to get others involved due to any complications that might arise. If any act in a heavy-handed manner then attention could quite easily fall on them rather than Uber,” Howarth added.
Cities across the world have been turning against the UberX service since its launch with Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver all among those that have moved to ban it under city codes.