Business Safety and Licensing Manager at Doncaster Council, Paul Williams, told members of the local authority’s licensing committee that people trafficking and a caution for the ill-treatment of a child were among the offences that two Doncaster taxi drivers had on their criminal records during recent checks.
By law, taxi drivers must renew their licences every three years in order for enhanced criminal record checks to be carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service, DBS, on behalf of the local authority which issues the licence.
Mr Williams said: “Some taxi drivers have their records come back time after time with nothing on them, but some come back with things like people traffkicking, which is why it is a national requirement that needs to be in place. I know the delays in getting the checks back has meant that some drivers have not been able to work, but we are sending out reminders six months in advance now.”
During the meeting, which was held yesterday, members of the licensing committee approved plans to enforce more stringent rules on Hackney Carriage taxi drivers operating in Doncaster. The conditions include companies hiring Hackney Drivers licensed by other authorities being forced to tell Doncaster Council at least 72 hours in advance.
This comes after a case from Stockton-On-Tees that reached the High Court in 2010 revealed a legal loophole, whereby Hackney Carriage drivers are entitled to operate anywhere they choose to in the country irrespective of where their taxi license is gained.
Mr Williams explained that this could mean that Hackney Carriage taxi drivers who have gained their license from a local authority who operate a less rigorous screening process would still be able to work in Doncaster.
He said: “I know that we have been getting Hackney Carriage drivers with licenses from Gainsborough, Oxfordshire, Cumbria operating in Doncaster.
“What they’re doing is lawful, so we can’t prevent it, but what we can do is implement a series of checks.”
Other checks set to be enforced by the local authority following the licensing committee meeting include the private hire operator being forced to retain a copy of the vehicle license granted by another authority, along with a copy of their MOT certificate and policy of insurance and their vehicle registration documents. They will also be required to forward all documents to the council within 72 hours.