CALLS have been made for all taxis to carry officially-approved markings to prevent passengers becoming victims of crime.

It follows an incident in which a woman is alleged to have been sexually assaulted and dumped near the M27 motorway after getting into what she thought was a taxi.

The union Unite says people are becoming used to getting into unmarked taxis because of all the Uber vehicles that are “flooding” into Southampton.

Taxi driver Perry McMillan, chairman of the Southampton cab section of Unite, said Uber vehicles licensed by Southampton City Council had to carry clear markings but those from other areas often displayed nothing but a small disc in the back windscreen.

Some of the Ubers were from the New Forest while others travelled into the city from as far afield as Basingstoke and London, he said.

Southampton taxi drivers have held talks with New Forest District Council and are also planning to raise the issue with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Mr McMillan has spoken out following an alleged incident involving a woman in Bedford Place, Southampton, last month.

He criticised some of the advice issued by police at the time. Officers said people should book a taxi in advance instead of flagging one down in the street and should always sit behind the driver.

Mr McMillan stressed that people were legally entitled to hail a taxi in the street.

But Mr McMillan added: “If a passenger is feeling unwell, due to consuming too much alcohol, the last thing a cabbie wants is that person sitting behind him.

“By seating on the near side, they can open the door on to the pavement if they are feeling nauseous.

“Drivers face increasing pressure from out-of-town mini cabs flooding our city. Being hailed in the street helps both them and passengers in a hurry. They get to their destination safely - in cabs fitted with CCTV.”

Police investigating the alleged incident in Bedford Place have charged a 57-year-old Southampton man with kidnap and sexual assault.