Councils hand taxi licences to thousands including rapists

Fears public is ‘at risk’ as local councils hand licences to thousands of taxi drivers from across Britain while failing to check their criminal records

  • Rapists and other convicted sex offenders have been given taxi licences
  • Councils that failed to check their criminal records, it has been claimed
  • Rossendale licenced over 3,700 tax drivers last year, despite having rank space for just 75 vehicle  
  • The vast majority of the drivers licensed by Rossendale did not live in the borough

Rapists and other convicted sex offenders have been given taxi licences by councils that failed to check their criminal records, it has been claimed.

Some local authorities have also taken hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees from applicants, knowing they did not have the cab ranks to accommodate them.

An investigation found serious failings at Rossendale, Lancashire, and a legal loophole allegedly exploited by Wolverhampton.

Rapists and other convicted sex offenders have been given taxi licences by councils that failed to check their criminal records, it has been claimed (file image)

Rossendale licenced over 3,700 tax drivers last year, despite having rank space for just 75 vehicles, while in Wolverhampton, dozens of minicab firms across Britain have been licensed as local operators, despite having no employees or vehicles in the city.

The vast majority of the drivers licensed by Rossendale did not live in the borough.

Many lived in northern England and the Midlands, but they applied to Rossendale for licences because the council was seen as a ‘soft touch’, it was claimed. Northern cities are understood to impose stricter tests and requirements for licences, with some charging higher fees, so drivers flocked to the small Lancashire town.

The investigation by The Times also found that councils issued thousands of licences to drivers, even when it was known some had convictions. More than 330 alleged sex assaults by minicab or taxi driver suspects were reported to police in 2016-17.

Councils are losing track of drivers’ criminal records or hiring drivers knowing of their criminal pasts, The Times reported.

In the past decade, 131 drivers have been found guilty of sex offences against passengers. Among them were more than 40 men convicted of rape, including black cab rapist John Worboys. One council in Nottinghamshire issued hundreds of taxi licences to men outside its area, one of whom later carried out a sex attack on a passenger.

Some local authorities have also taken hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees from applicants, knowing they did not have the cab ranks to accommodate them. An investigation found serious failings at Rossendale, Lancashire, and a legal loophole allegedly exploited by Wolverhampton (file image)

Drivers with Rossendale licences have been convicted of offences in York, Milton Keynes and Manchester, the paper said. After a whistleblower raised concerns, Rossendale’s licensing manager was suspended and left the authority, it was reported.

In a change of policy, staff were told no licences could be renewed unless the applicant presented a recent DBS (disclosure and barring service) certificate.

There were calls for an independent inquiry into the whistleblower’s allegations last night. But the council said they had been investigated and were unfounded.

It said it was confident that it had not issued any taxi licences ‘to anyone who should not have received one’.

Since 2016, Rossendale has introduced measures to cut the licences it issues. Wolverhampton council said it operated ‘robust and rigorous’ vetting and offered ‘the best taxi licensing system in the UK’.

 

Source: Read Full Article