In this file photo taken on September 22, 2017 A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London. - London's transport authority on November 25, 2019 refused to renew an operating licence for the ride-hailing giant Uber because of safety and security concerns. Picture: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
In this file photo taken on September 22, 2017 A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London. - London's transport authority on November 25, 2019 refused to renew an operating licence for the ride-hailing giant Uber because of safety and security concerns. Picture: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

London — London's transport authority on Monday refused to renew an operating licence for the ride-hailing giant Uber because of safety and security concerns.

“Transport for London (TfL) has concluded that it will not grant Uber London Ltd (Uber) a new private hire operator's licence in response to its latest application,” it said in a statement.

The rejection is the latest setback to the firm's operations in London, which have been targeted by protests from traditional black cab drivers to previous licence suspensions.

In September, Uber was granted a two-month extension to its licence following the expiry of a previous 15-month agreement. The extension was conditional on passenger safety improvements.

But TfL said on Monday there were a “pattern of failures”, including the use of unauthorised drivers on other drivers' accounts, allowing them to pick up passengers.

The transport authority said this happened at least 14,000 times, endangering users, as it invalidated insurance. Some trips took place with unlicensed, suspended or dismissed drivers.

TfL said it recognised steps the company had taken to address such issues but was concerned about the ease with which its checks and balances could be manipulated.

Legislation allows Uber 21 days to appeal and the company can continue to operate during this time.

Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TfL, said safety was its “absolute top priority” and the infringements were “unacceptable”.

“It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future,” she added.

There was no immediate comment from Uber, which will have to demonstrate on appeal that it has put in place sufficient measures to eliminate risks to passengers.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he backed the decision. He added that he recognised that the decision would be unpopular but that companies needed to play by the rules.

“Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers' safety at risk,” he said.

AFP