The capital's taxi and private hire licensing authority Transport for London (TfL) have announced the revocation of hundreds of private hire driver licences, following shocking revelations of cheating during the application process.
Helen Chapman, TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “It was extremely concerning to learn that certificates had been fraudulently provided to private hire drivers and applicants at a training centre. We have now revoked the licences of 143 drivers who obtained certificates through Vista Training Solutions and rejected the 209 pending applications using certificates from the compromised college.
“Working with Ofqual, who regulate this sector, and the relevant examination boards, who oversee colleges, we continue to assess the other applications on hold to be assured of their validity, and move quickly to reduce the number of people waiting to be licensed.
"We will continue to support Ofqual and relevant exam boards with their investigations into this type of fraud and if further evidence is provided we will take tough licensing action.
“The most robust and relevant topographical tests are our own assessments. To eliminate the risk of fraudulent topographical certificates being used as a way to avoid our assessments, we will remove this exemption after February.”
Transport for London confirmed that all 2,309 applications that used the topographical test exemption were put on hold to allow investigations into allegations of fraudulently obtained certificates from Vista Training Solutions.
This investigation identified 209 people who would have been granted licences after obtaining certificates from the compromised college, which could increase the risk to public safety.
TfL said they have sought evidence of fraudulent activity at other centres, but none has been provided.
A spokesperson for TfL, said: 'Should information be brought to our attention TfL will take the appropriate licensing action.
'As no evidence has been found to date of fraudulent activity at other centres, TfL is now processing the remaining 2,100 applications that were on hold.'
TfL is continuing with its plans to increase capacity for those sitting topographical assessments, including opening a new centre at Baker Street early in the New Year.
Image credit: Pixabay