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York council allow taxi drivers to continue working without criminal record checks due to ‘serious’

Some taxi drivers in York have been operating without valid criminal record checks in place due to a “serious” error by City of York Council. A report by the council’s third party auditors Veritau uncovered that the council had not kept up-to-date background checks on its drivers working in the area.

Veritau said in a report: “Checks were out of date by several years and records had not been updated,” and that meant “a potential risk to the travelling public if drivers have not been vetted”. The criminal checks on new drivers entering the trade were however carried out in accordance to the council’s licensing policy. The report by Veritau goes on to say: “A criminal record check is an important safety measure and the policy dictates that this should be carried out every three years.” The report states that the auditors found checks on some of the councils drivers were years overdue and some records were simply not on file at all.  The report also adds that “Around 400 complaints each year are made about taxis. Around half of these complaints over the last year have been in relation to Uber.” Neil Ferris, corporate director of economy and place at City of York Council, responded by saying: “We are taking this matter very seriously and have put additional resources in place to clear the remaining DBS checks and have made good progress with this. We work closely with the police to ensure any drivers who are believed to be of risk are dealt with immediately, regardless of their DBS clearance which only deal with past incidents.

“All drivers dealing with school contracts have been routinely checked. “Those drivers requiring a check have responded positively and to-date there have been no issues of concern.” 

Mike Palmer, secretary of the York Private Hire Association, said in a statement to TaxiPoint: “Criminal records checks for drivers in York follow the enhanced Disclosure and Barring system. “We work with vulnerable adults, children, customers with specific needs, and the party-goers who don’t always fully understand the situations they find themselves in. “We have to be honest and trustworthy. “With the information given by the licensing manager at our last trade / council meeting being that our actions at work – and as importantly, outside our cars and work hours – affect our standing as ‘fit and proper’ to carry on as drivers, I feel confident that no driver would have run afoul of these checks without the council having knowledge from the police during the time identified in the report.”

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