The department for transport has outlined that there is evidence to support the view that taxis and private hire vehicles are a high-risk environment in terms of risk to passengers; this can be seen in the abuse and exploitation of children and adults at risk from harm facilitated, and, in some cases, perpetrated by the trade. Links between the trade and child sexual exploitation have been established in many areas across the country. Data on reported sexual assaults by taxi and private hire vehicle drivers evidence the risk to passengers: data from the areas of Greater Manchester and Merseyside suggest that, if similar offence patterns are applied across England, 623 sexual assaults per year are reported.
The Policing Act 2017 enables the Secretary of State for Transport to issue statutory guidance on exercising taxi and private hire vehicle licensing functions to protect children and adults at risk from harm when using such services. The ‘Standards’ document sets out a framework of policies that licensing authorities must have regard to when exercising their functions. Given that the standards have been set directly to address the safeguarding of the public and the potential impact of failings in this area, the importance of thoroughly considering these standards cannot be overstated.
Whilst the focus on the standards is on protecting children and adults at risk from harm, all passengers will benefit from the recommendations contained within it. There is consensus that common core minimum standards are required to better regulate the taxi and private hire vehicle sector, and the recommendations contained in the document are the result of detailed discussion with the trade, regulators and safety campaign groups. Whilst the new ‘Standards’ are guidance and not compulsory, the department for transport expects the recommendations laid out to be implemented by licensing authorities unless there is a compelling local reason not to do so.
The department for transport has advised licensing authorities to consult on any proposed changes to licensing rules that may have significant impacts on passengers and/or the trade. Braintree District Council is therefore conducting a consultation to seek the views of the trade, members of the public, as well as a wide range of partner agencies and stakeholders, on the adoption of the new standards.
You can find a full list of the proposed changes we intend to make to our policy documents in the table below.
You can respond to the consultation using the survey document, available on the consultation webpage, which when completed you can send by e-mail or post to us:
- E-mail: [email protected] please include the words ‘Consultation on Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards’ in the subject field; or
- Post: Licensing Team, Braintree District Council, Causeway House, Bocking End CM7 9HB.
In your response you should clearly state your name and any organisation or persons you may be responding on behalf of.
The consultation is open until 30 April 2021.
The results of the consultation exercise will be presented to Members at Licensing Committee to consider the feedback from the trade, members of the public and other stakeholders.
Areas for consideration
Please see the table below for details of the current situation for each item we are consulting on and the corresponding proposed changes as laid out in the ‘Standards’ document. Please note that the Council already has in place several of the recommendations contained within the ‘Standards’, therefore this consultation concerns only the proposed changes we intend to make and does not form part of a full review of the ‘Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy’.
In order to achieve consistency, and to mitigate the risk of successful legal challenge, the Council should have a clear policy for the consideration of criminal records. This should include, for example, which offences would prevent an applicant from being licensed regardless of the period elapsed in all but truly exceptional circumstances. In the case of lesser offences, the policy should consider the number of years the Council will require to have elapsed since the commission of particular kinds of offences before they will grant a licence. The proposed revision to the current Criminal Convictions Policy draws on the work of the Institute of Licensing, in partnership with the LGA, the National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers (NALEO) and Lawyers in Local Government, on determining the suitability of taxi and private hire vehicle licensees.
Timescale for Implementation
Officers intend to recommend to committee that the new standards be adopted in full immediately; however, in some instances there may need to be a lead-in time to implement one or more of the new measures in order to put in place suitable processes to facilitate the changes applied. Following the meeting the policy documents will be updated to reflect the changes agreed by Licensing Committee. The trade will also be advised on the new requirements.
Included with this document are several tables that detail the differences between the proposed changes and the current policies in place.