The new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which local authorities are expected to implement are intended to improve consistency across licensing systems, reducing risk of harm posed to vulnerable passengers and children. This news should be welcome by communities, as in recent years we’ve heard of serious and high profile cases of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers abusing their position of trust in places like Rochdale, Oxford, Newcastle and Rotherham.
The new recommendations include processing an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check for drivers every 6 months. An Enhanced DBS check with barred list check(s) are only available for those individuals who are carry out regulated activity, and a small number of positions listed in Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations.
Searches are carried out using the Police National Computer and information held by police forces but in addition will check against the children’s and/or adult’s barred lists.
6 monthly checking is a vast improvement on current procedures, where a criminal record check is undertaken either at the point of a driver’s application for a licence or the renewal of a licence, which is often every three years.
The DfT are also suggesting that they won’t hesitate to introduce legislation if licencing authorities don’t fulfil their responsibilities to keep the public safe.
As well as increasing DBS checking frequency, safeguarding training is also included to help drivers identify and respond to passengers that may be being abused or exploited. There is also a recommendation to consider whether the use of CCTV would be appropriate given potential privacy issues. Ultimately it is the licencing authorities’ responsibility to ensure drivers are fit to transport passengers in a safe environment and to stop those who are not.
Licensing authorities will be expected to fully implement the new standards as soon as possible, meaning reviews and changes to policy will need to be carried out quickly.
In previous years we have seen similar recommendations introduced to the transport industry, including increasing the frequency of driving licence checks for drivers in organisations such as bus or logistics companies. Historically many organisations would only verify a driver’s licence information every 12 months, obtaining information such as the category of vehicle they can drive, number of endorsements or convictions or if their licence has expired, been revoked or disqualified. The majority of the industry has now implemented bi- annual or in some cases quarterly driving licence checks, helping to mitigate risk of someone driving for them who may pose a threat to themselves, other employees, their organisations assets, brand reputation or the public.
Some would say, the increase of criminal record checking frequency in this sector is long overdue. Even the DBS have said that criminal record checks are only factualthe day they are completed so checking more regularly should be the key to giving passengers and licencing authorities more confidence that the driver transporting passengers can be trusted.
Given this change is significant for authorities, it will no doubt pose a headache as they will need to debate amendment to policy, consider how the driver trade and unions will react and operationally determine how they can implement more frequent checking whilst minimising operational impact and cost.
GBG specialises in identity intelligence, supporting organisations to let more good people in and keep bad people out by leveraging data and technology. GBG serve many licencing authorities already with online criminal record and driving licence checking services and are now providing options to support the new standards, ensuring authorities can quickly adapt, whilst not necessarily taking on all the administrative burden themselves.
GBG realises that the industry and our customers will need support through the implementation of these new standards. If you are a taxi licencing authority or an existing GBG customer please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or enquire through our website for support.