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Undercover sting catches nine Private Hire drivers illegally plying for hire during a single night i

Manchester City Council joined forces with Greater Manchester Police to undertake a sting operation - Operation Aztec - to catch private hire drivers who were illegally plying for hire. 

Plain clothed officers posing as shoppers approached parked PHVs and asked the drivers to take them on a paid journey. 

A total of nine drivers were caught by the undercover officers accepting the trips even though they were not pre-booked. 

It is illegal for private hire drivers to accept fares which are not booked in advance. Only Hackney Carriage Taxi's are permitted to undertake such journeys.  

The offenders were intercepted by marked police cars upon acceptance of payment and subsequently had their vehicles inspected. The drivers were also interviewed and warned that they could be liable for prosecution.

One driver was found to have been driving without sufficient insurance and had his vehicle seized and impounded by Greater Manchester police. 

According to The Mancunion, 66 cases have been pursued after a private hire driver was found to have illegally picked up passengers in the last two years.  

Drivers found guilty of operating illegally are likely to either have their private hire licence  revoked by their licensing authority, face a hefty fine (which can reach up to £7,500) or receive between six to eight penalty points on their driving licence.  

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, who went out with officers during Operation Aztec, stressed that passengers are putting themselves at risk if they use unbooked vehicles. Akbar said he saw many people putting themselves at risk by getting into un-booked vehicles. 

When passengers enter an un-booked vehicle they are not insured. In the event of an accident, the passenger will have no injury cover. 

Passengers are also putting themselves at risk of attacks by rogue drivers. If a trip is not pre-booked then there would be no record of a journey having taken place and the driver cannot be tracked. Akbar added: “The number of drivers caught during just one night of action should serve as a warning to others who think they can get away with illegally activity. They should be in no doubt that if they are caught, the council will take them to court.” 

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