Taxis - Licensing: Protecting Users Consultation
The Department of Transport has just launched a consultation on proposed recommendations to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing authorities on how their licensing powers can be exercised in order to better safeguard children and vulnerable adults.
In recent years the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) industry has been subject of intense scrutiny as a result of perceived failings in taxi and PHV licensing. Criminal activity by a minority of taxi drivers which has attracted national attention has highlight potential vulnerabilities in the current system. The interpretation of what constitutes a ‘fit an proper’ person can vary from local authority area to local authority area, one of the aims of this consultation is to instil greater consistency across the system.
Some authorities have also received criticism regarding perceived failures to properly enforce the standards and take action when concerns were raised about the involvement of licensees; especially in the abuse and exploitation of some of the most vulnerable in our society.
One of the measures being examined is a recommendation for all drivers to have an enhanced criminal record and background check before they can start working. The Government has pledged to introduce national minimum standards for drivers and to establish a national licensing database.
Restricting the practise of drivers seeking licences sometimes hundreds of miles away from where they intend to operate day to day (‘licence shopping’) is also being examined following much criticism from trade bodies and local authorities alike.. In a move that would protect both drivers and passengers, consideration is also to be given as to whether all vehicles should be fitted with CCTV.
Finally, the introduction of a national licensing database to assist the sharing of relevant information between licensing authorities and other bodies necessary to ensure that all those in the trade are ‘fit and proper’ is proposed. Nusrat Ghani MP commented when launching the consultation on behalf of the Parliamentary taxi group:
“Underpinning these measures will be the introduction of a national licensing database to assist the sharing of relevant information between licensing authorities and other bodies necessary to ensure that all those in the trade are ‘fit and proper’ and warrant the trust that is placed in them by the public. This database will build on the work of the Local Government Association and the National Anti-Fraud Network in establishing the National Register of Revocation and Refusals.”