Passengers using taxis and private hire vehicles will be kept safe with the introduction of sweeping new licensing standards announced by the government today.
The new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Standards, which the government expects local authorities to implement, are being brought in to reduce the risk of harm against children and vulnerable passengers while increasing safety levels across the board.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT) it follows on from ‘historic and serious cases of taxi and PHV drivers abusing their position of trust’.
One major reform is the introduction of criminal record checks for drivers every six months, which comes alongside safeguard training to help drivers identify and respond to passengers that may be being abused.
The DfT is also requesting that licensing authorities consider whether the use of CCTV in vehicles is ‘beneficial or proportionate’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We know the majority of drivers provide an important and safe service for communities, but in light of appalling incidents in places like Rochdale, Oxford, Newcastle and Rotherham, more must be done to protect passengers from those who abuse their position of trust.
“That’s why we’re looking to licensing authorities to enforce these rigorous new standards, ensuring drivers are fit to transport passengers in a safe environment and to stop those who aren’t.
“We expect all licensing authorities to implement the standards and won’t hesitate to introduce legislation if they don’t fulfil their responsibilities to keep the public safe.”
These new tighter measures will also mean that all drivers applying for a licence will need to disclose whether or not they have previously held a licence in the area. Local authorities will also have reporting systems in place to allow passengers to report incidents or suspicious behaviour.