RESEARCH BY the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has revealed that thousands of taxi and private hire drivers across Britain have been granted cab licences despite having convictions for criminal offences.
The Trust, which was launched by Suzy Lamplugh’s parents after she disappeared in Fulham in 1986 and was a key player behind the 1998 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act, made a number of Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests which revealed that 865 drivers with convictions have been working as cab drivers since 2012.
Only 38 councils replied to the FOI’s however and the true figure for the remaining 316 local authorities across the UK is likely to be much higher.
Criminal convictions uncovered included; common assault, actual bodily harm, speeding and drink driving.
One prolific offender with a taxi licence had 36 separate convictions for offences, including violence and theft, carried out between 1973 and 2017.
Public safety campaigners say the current licence requirements to become a cab driver are “not fit for purpose” and are demanding new rules which will guarantee a robust set of minimum standards.
While the majority of cab drivers do not pose a risk to passengers, a minority are slipping through the net. And this figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is deeply troubling that there are taxi and minicab drivers with serious criminal convictions operating across the country. And the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes a “fit and proper” person, with regards to taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, is simply unacceptable.
“Inadequate regulations can and in some cases already have, led to passengers being victimised by drivers with a known history of unsafe behaviour and even criminal convictions.
“Despite this, local authorities are continuing to take unnecessary risks when granting and renewing taxi and private hire vehicle licences.”
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust further claimed that the highest level of checks by the government’s Disclosure & Barring Service are only recommended, rather than a legal requirement, for those applying to become a cab driver.
A spokesman for the Trust added:
We have also raised concerns over the alleged failures of police forces to communicate with licensing authorities over criminal offences and other behaviour of concern by drivers.
“And therefore we are calling for a national database where information can be collated to ensure that officials have details of past offences and know whether applicants have had licences refused by other local authorities.”