Councillor says tougher laws need to be introduced to tackle out of control illegal ply for hire wit

Tougher laws could be introduced to tackle illegal ply-for-hire by private hire drivers in Glasgow after councillors spoke up about the dangers of entering a vehicle which has not been pre-booked. Ministers at Westminster are currently working on a bill to address issues within the licensing trade and protect public health and safety.

108 private hire hire drivers across Glasgow had their licence suspended for illegally plying for hire over the past five years but Cllr Alex Wilson, chair of the Licensing Committee, has said: "These are figures from the council’s enforcement officers so the number could well be higher." The figures, as reported by the Glasgow Live, are as follows: In 2014, 14 people were caught pirating. This increased to 17 in 2015. There was a slight dip to 11 in 2016 but figures climbed to 34 in 2017 and 32 in 2018.

Mr Wilson believes the issue is "more widespread than it seems and tougher laws could be the answer to catching more perpetrators.” Illegally plying for hire, also known as "Pirating" is where a private hire car or minicab, picks up passengers off the street who have not booked in advance.

These can lead to a number of serious issues including passenger safety and invalidation of the licences insurance. Drivers are also known to often charge passengers a higher fare than they would have if booked through a licensed operator.

Mr Wilson said: “The problem is more widespread than it seems. These are figures from the council’s enforcement officers so the number could well be higher.

“Ministers at Westminster are currently working on a Bill that would address concerns with the licensing trade and protect public health and safety. “If it is passed it will hopefully give licensing boards more powers to crack down on the problem. This would hopefully mean tougher introducing tougher sanctions. “But this idea is in the very early stages. I think more will be done when we speak to the Scottish Government.”

Mr Wilson continued: “Glasgow is ahead of the game and we are leading the way in tackling the issue, but pirating is not an issue unique to Glasgow.”

He also has concerns over the lack of enforcement officers patrolling the streets trying to catch any offenders and has stressed his desire to have a more visible presence. Councillor Wilson said: “At the end of the day pirating is not just a council issue and I don’t think it is fair to say it is the council’s fault. We cannot enforce every single street in Glasgow. “The chairwoman of Licensing at Edinburgh has contacted the Scottish Government to see of there is anything they can do. If we work together we can put pressure on them to make sure tougher penalties for pirating are introduced and for others who break the law.”

Image: Source; Pixabay
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