Will taxi licensing system control rogue drivers?

This article was published in 2012, in Newsletter 102.

The city council is currently consulting on a new licensing system for taxis and private hire vehicles. The good news is that it envisages consumer complaints being taken into account in determining whether a driver is a fit and proper person to drive a taxi, which means that if bad driving is reported, the report is likely to have some effect. At present (at least at the time of an FOI request last year) no record is kept of complaints on a driver’s record.

Two options are put forward in the consultation. Option 1 is a points system, where offences and complaints both accrue points. Option 2 treats them separately, and significant sanctions only arise for a serious number of offences or a large number of ‘complaints of a similar nature’. We strongly prefer Option 1, and we do not believe that Option 2 will work in practice.

But even Option 1 is limited. As proposed, complaints and offences only remain current for 12 months. This is far too short, and to be fair to drivers (whose livelihoods depends on their licences) a high trigger level is proposed, of 5 unsubstantiated complaints in the period (fewer if there are also convictions). We are proposing that there should also be triggers over 36 months and 60 months.

Roger Salmon