Thursday, January 14

criminals licensed to drive taxis

Criminals with convictions for offences such as indecent assault and drug dealing are knowingly being licensed to operate as taxi drivers, an investigation by the BBC programme Inside Out West Midlands has revealed.
Freedom of Information requests to councils and police authorities across the West Midlands region discovered that over the past three years 209 people with previous convictions have been given a licence, despite criminal records checks being carried out.
In Wolverhampton, a man who between 1985 and 2005 had carried out more than 30 offences was, in 2006, deemed suitable to become a taxi driver.
A spokesman for Wolverhampton City Council said the licensing of private hire and hackney carriages was taken seriously.
"The council has received no complaints regarding this driver since the private licence was granted in 2006," the spokesman said.
There are no official rules about licensing taxi drivers. Instead, councils tend to follow various guidelines, one of which is issued by the Department of Transport.
In Worcester, there are several drivers with criminal convictions.
A spokesman for the council's licensing committee said they followed guidelines issued by the Metropolitan Police and by the Lord Chief Justice.
"The third criteria is whether we would allow our daughter, if [we] had one, to get in the cab," a spokesman said.
He said convictions for drugs and sexual offences were "a complete no no" but added that was not stipulated in the council's guidelines.
A spokesman for the National Taxi Association said people with previous convictions tended to have their applications decided on merit.
Threats to kill
"If someone does have a lot of previous convictions he is likely to have to go before a council and explain himself," he said.
More checks to police authorities revealed that 250 crimes had been carried out by licensed taxi drivers over the past three years, including rape and making threats to kill.
The National Taxi Association spokesman said magistrates and police would inform a council of a conviction.

"If it is a serious offence they have the power to suspend a driver," he said.
In November 2009, Stoke-on-Trent taxi driver Mohammed Qaddier was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Katie Bennett, 21, suffered massive head injuries when she tumbled from the cab in Newchapel in May 2008.
The Inside Out investigation revealed that Qaddier had previously had his licence taken away from him by the city council for plying his trade illegally.
In 2004, it was given back to him by the city's magistrates.
Her father Philip Bennett said the fact that people with convictions were getting jobs as drivers was scandalous.
"Whoever is putting them in a position of taxi driving, with those sort of convictions, wants their heads feeling.
"They are no better than the people they are giving licences to," he said.
Last year, councils across the West Midlands region took £4.5m in taxi licensing fees.
The GMB, the taxi driver's union, said the system needed to be tightened.
"What we don't want is a tick box system saying a check is done and the licence issued," a spokesman said.
"The policy must be robust. It must take into account the nature of the offence and does it have any effect on the job they are doing."
Wolverhampton City Council, and others, have now said they will review their guidelines.

Watch the video.



2 comments:

John said...

That is food for thought.

The people who gave that scumbag back his licence should be sacked, pure and simple.
People who use taxis need to know that they are not being driven round by a convicted rapist.

Paul the Cab Driver said...

Well, the solution to this problem is very simple: Eliminate the taxi council entirely, and allow a free market in taxi cabbing. Obviously, the councils are a waste of money, as they only collect dues from drivers and companies, and do zero to "protect" the public. In a free market situation, the only thing a company would have to fall back upon is its reputation. And the companies would be far more harsh in their driver standards than some silly council with nothing at risk.
In Phoenix AZ, where I own a small cab company, we have such a free market, and it works like a champ. Sure, some convicted felons get jobs in the taxi industry, but the road supervisors of the various companies watch them like a hawk, and even the most minor screw up can lead to dismissal. Far better than a council.
One small company here in Phoenix had a driver who caused a horrible wreck involving a police officer. The outpouring of rage in this community resulted in the entire company being driven out of business. I'll bet taxi council members never have anything near that much at stake.