WREXHAM Council has issued a stark warning to remind people of the dangers of using unlicensed taxis.

The warning comes following the indecent assault of two women in Chester by a man who posed as a taxi driver.

And reports have been received from other parts of the country where people have suffered injuries after travelling in taxis but were unable to claim compensation because the vehicles were unlicensed and uninsured.

Andy Lewis, chief housing and public protection officer said: 'The only way a private hire vehicle is legitimate is if it is licensed by the council and is pre-booked through a private hire company.

'It is illegal for a private hire vehicle to accept custom after being hailed down in the street. Only licensed Hackney Carriages - London-style cabs - are allowed to 'tout' for business in the street.'

A licensed private hire vehicle will display licence plates on the front and rear of the vehicle and the driver will wear an ID badge.

By December 2005, all private hire vehicles in Wrexham will also display distinctive yellow stickers on the rear passenger windows and many vehicles already have these in place. Only licensed drivers will have been checked for previous convictions and deemed an appropriate person to be a private hire driver.

The council has issued these guidelines to ensure you enjoy a safe journey:

Plan ahead and always pre-book through a licensed operator.

Ask for details of the car and make sure the driver knows the destination and the name it was booked under.

Make sure the vehicle is plated with private hire licence plates on the front and rear of the vehicle.

Ask to see the driver's ID badge. He or she is obliged to wear this badge in such a manner as to be distinctly visible.

Do not give any personal details to the driver.