Taxi licences are being issued behind closed doors to drivers convicted of offences including child sex crimes and reckless driving, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has revealed. The findings follow a government report that claims current taxi and private hire laws are "not fit for the modern world".
According to the report, rules need tightening on everything from CCTV use in taxis to criminal record checks. Some existing laws date back to 1847.
In most areas licences for taxis and private hire vehicles - or minicabs - are issued by unitary, borough or district councils. In London the system is managed by Transport for London. In recent weeks, Local Democracy Reporters have reported that:
- A taxi driver in Sandwell was allowed to keep working, despite a criminal conviction for sexually assaulting a child. The case was heard in private
- A Cornwall driver was granted a licence behind closed doors even though he had been convicted of causing death by reckless driving in 1986 and common assault in 2011
- Birmingham City Council revoked a private hire licence in February, more than two years after the unnamed driver had been convicted of human trafficking offences in Belgium. Licensing staff found out through a criminal records check when his licence was up for renewal - but it had gone unnoticed when the licence was renewed in 2016
- In Scotland, burglars, arsonists, domestic abusers, thieves and reckless drivers were all successful in acquiring taxi and private hire licences from Borders Council
The Bolton News also reported that licensing chiefs let a taxi driver off with a warning - also in private - after he was convicted of driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after an accident.