The Government has contacted licensing authorities across England to put in place an end of year deadline for all new taxi and private hire statutory guidance rules to be reviewed.
According to the letter sent to authorities, once all the reviews have been conducted, implementation of the new rules should take place ‘as soon as possible in 2022’.
Licensing authorities have been asked to complete a survey issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) in January to assess the progress in considering and implementing measures set out in the Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards published in July 2020.
The new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which local authorities are expected to implement are designed to improve consistency in the licensing system, reduce the risk of harm posed to children and vulnerable passengers in the process.
Criminal record checks for drivers every 6 months form a key part of the standards, as does safeguarding training to help drivers identify and respond to passengers that may be being abused or exploited. A recommendation for licensing authorities to consider whether the use of CCTV would be beneficial or proportionate in their areas is also included, which sets out that potential privacy issues must be taken into account.
New statutory standards brought in should cost drivers an extra £62.24 per year, according to the DfT sources.
Within the letter sent to licensing authorities, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, says: “As you will be aware, the regulation of the trade is only as strong as the weakest link and so we must continue to drive up standards where they are deficient, and this must be achieved as a matter of urgency.
“Making the necessary changes to your policies to align them with the Statutory Standards is incredibly important to secure the safety of passengers. I am aware from the survey response that some licensing authorities are already applying the Statutory Standards to new licence applications and I welcome this. We expect authorities to explore all options to ensure the Statutory Standards apply to all licence holders at the earliest opportunity and not just at renewal. I cannot stress enough the importance of bringing about these changes to protect the public.
“Authorities have overall made significant progress despite the challenges we have all faced in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response your authority submitted in January said that your review was currently or will shortly be in progress, based on the responses from other authorities our view is that the review should be completed before 31 December 2021, so that any changes to policies can be in place as soon as possible in 2022.”