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Licensed PHV driver illegally plying-for-hire in Reading caught red-handed must pay £2,900

In a recent crackdown on unlicensed taxi operations, a 63-year-old man was heavily fined and penalised for illegally offering taxi services whilst licensed as a private hire vehicle (PHV) driver in Reading.

Mr Saleem Raza was caught red-handed by council licensing officers and has now faced the consequences of his actions.

On the night of 7 May 2023, Raza was spotted by a licensing officer as he parked outside a popular late-night eatery on West Street—a hotspot for unauthorised taxi activities. Without a valid licence or insurance, he unlawfully agreed to transport the officer to Tilehurst for £15, lacking the legally required booking beforehand.

The incident led to a court hearing at Reading Magistrates' Court on 4 April 2024, where Mr. Raza was fined £1,000 for plying for hire. Additional costs imposed included prosecution charges of £1,500 and a victim surcharge of £400, cumulating in total penalties of £2,900. Furthermore, his driving licence was endorsed with eight penalty points for operating a vehicle without insurance.

The court has stipulated that the fine should be settled in monthly instalments of £300, with the initial payment due within 28 days.

Licensing officials have reiterated warnings about the risks associated with private hire vehicles illegally plying for hire. They urge the public to ensure their safety by only using properly licensed black cabs or private hires that have been pre-booked. The community is reminded to avoid the lure of convenience or lower costs over their personal safety and legal compliance.

Rob Abell, Consumer Protection Group Manager at Reading Borough Council, said: “Public safety and confidence to use regulated and licensed taxis is of paramount importance.  Private Hire and Hackney Carriage customers are entitled to trust the person driving is properly vetted, authorised, checked, and licensed. 

“Unlicensed drivers who undermine that trust will be robustly dealt with to maintain public confidence and ensure safety in our night-time economy.  The Council Licensing Team worked tirelessly to bring this complex case to court, and I am delighted the District Judge recognised the importance of it. 

“Any customer who has any concerns about taxi or private hire drivers can report them in confidence to us at:, or through the Council Contact Centre on 0118 937 3787.”


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