A LONDON HIGH court judge who warned that, “no woman is safe in a minicab” appears to have been uninformed about the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.
Recorder Michael Sayers QC jailed an asylum seeker for eight years after raping a London secretary and then claimed that, “Those hiring a private taxis simply have no way of knowing a driver’s background.”
The judge called for the, “compulsory licensing of all cab drivers” and his remarks came after he jailed East London-based Speedline Cars driver Razaq Assadullah (31) for eight years and highlights a loophole in the current PHV regulations.
The Afghanistan asylum seeker was convicted in December 2012 and sentenced at the Old Bailey in February after he was found guilty of raping the 28 year old woman.
Sentencing Abdullah, judge sayers said: “With a mixture of arrogance and cynical opportunism, you abused your position of trust. She was placed in your cab by a friend who paid you to get her home safely.
“You were certainly aware of the gravity of the crime of rape as it would have been (in the accused’s native Afghanistan) met by a sentence of death by stoning.”
NEED FOR REGULATION REFORM?
Although the judge might have been unaware that London’s private hire drivers were already licensed by TfL, there would also seem to be areas where the enforcement of rules are failing both the trade and the travelling public of London.
TfL’s taxi and private hire compliance officers are trained to check that a private hire driver is licensed and that he is insured and drives a licensed vehicle, but appears to have not been instructed on how to check whether an identity is fraudulent.
The Old Bailey heard that Abdullah, from Plaistow, East London started work at Speedline Cars after he gave a false name and bought a bogus driving licence for £200.
But the trial did not reveal whether or not the blame lay with the operator of the East London cab firm, for not checking Abdullah’s background, or whether his illegality remained undiscovered because checks by the licensing authority were not rigorous enough.
Whatever the reason, the 1998 PHV Act was made law to protect the public and if checks by enforcement staff need to be beefed up, they should be and introduced at the earliest opportunity.