Review of Taxi Licensing Policy
In July 2020 the Department for Transport (DFT) published the Statutory Private Hire and Vehicle Standards. A copy of the guidance can be found here DFT Statutory Guidance 2020. In the introduction to the new guidance the DFT set out the following:
‘There is evidence to support the view that taxis and private hire vehicles are a high-risk environment. In terms of risks to passengers, this can be seen in abuse and exploitation of children and vulnerable adults facilitated and in some cases perpetrated by the trade and the number of sexual crimes reported which involve taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. Links between the trade and child sexual abuse and exploitation have been established in many areas and other investigations continue. Data on reported sexual assaults by taxi and private hire vehicle drivers evidence the risk to passengers; data from Greater Manchester and Merseyside suggest that, if similar offence patterns are applied across England, 623 sexual assaults per year are reported. These figures do not however account for the under reporting of crime which is estimated to be as high as 83 percent in the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 enables the Secretary of State for Transport to issue statutory guidance on exercising taxi and private hire vehicle licensing functions to protect children and vulnerable individuals who are over 18 from harm when using these services. For the purposes of this document, a child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday; and the term “vulnerable individual” has the same meaning as the definition of a ‘vulnerable adult’ for the purpose of section 42 of the Care Act 2014, which applies where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area (whether or not ordinarily resident there):
(a) has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting
any of those needs),
(b) is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
(c) as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against
the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.
Whilst the focus of the Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards is on
protecting children and vulnerable adults, all passengers will benefit from the
recommendations contained in it. There is consensus that common core minimum standards are required to regulate better the taxi and private hire vehicle sector, and the recommendations in this document are the result of detailed discussion with the trade, regulators and safety campaign groups.
The Department therefore expects these recommendations to be implemented unless there is a compelling local reason not to.’
Hyndburn Borough Council have carefully considered the proposals set out in the Statutory Guidance and have concluded that in order to review our current policy and bring it in line with the DFT requirements, the additional steps set out below are required
We have therefore, commenced a consultation on the additional requirements and we welcome any feedback from those in the taxi trade, members of the public who use taxis and any other stakeholder who may have an interest. The proposed changes are set out below. If any person wishes to submit a representation on the proposal they can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or writing to:
The Licensing Manager
Hyndburn Borough Council
Representations should be received before the close of business on the 26th January 2020
Disclosure and Barring Checks (DBS) will need to be carried out on drivers every 6 months (currently every 3 years). To enable this to be done with more ease and at less financial burden for the drivers it is proposed that all drivers should be required to enrol on the DBS update service which means that their status can be checked on line. This will cost the driver £13 per year and he will not have to apply for another DBS check unless there are any changes to the certificate (e.g. he commits an offence). Alternatively he would have to pay £49.60 every 6 months to apply for a new check and this would not only be expensive for the driver, it would also cause administration problems for the licensing team and could lead to the driver not being able to work until a certificate is produced.
Licence holders should be required to notify the issuing authority within 48 hours of an arrest and release, charge or conviction of any sexual offence, any offence involving dishonesty or violence and any motoring offence. An arrest for any of the offences within this scope should result in a review by the issuing authority as to whether the licence holder is fit to continue to do so.
As the DFT have clearly set out that when adopted all matters in the policy should be applied in retrospect, it is proposed that all licence holders will be required to undertake safeguarding training which must include County Lines training. An accredited training course is available on line at a cost of £12 and it is proposed that all existing drivers are given 6 months to complete the training. (new applicants will be dealt with differently and that is not subject to this consultation)
Private hire operators will be required to keep a register of staff who are concerned with the booking and despatching of vehicles. This register should be kept for the same period as booking records are required to be kept which is currently set out as 6 months in our policy.
Private hire operators will be required to produce a policy on employing ex-offenders. The DFT have set out the reason for this as follows: – ‘Licensing authorities should also require operators or applicants for a licence to provide their policy on employing ex-offenders in roles that would be on the register as above. As with the threshold to obtaining a private hire vehicle operators’ licence, those with a conviction for offences provided in the annex to this document (Annex – Assessment of previous convictions), other than those relating to driving, may not be suitable to decide who is sent to carry a child or vulnerable adult unaccompanied in a car.’
The Council have considered the mandating of the use of CCTV cameras in private hire and hackney carriage vehicles, however, we have come to the conclusion that at this time we do not have any evidence to suggest that this would be a proportionate condition in order to comply with the Information Commissioners requirements. This matter however, will be constantly under review.