Local Authorities could be urged to send out ‘mystery shoppers’ as part of new taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licensing guidance created by the Government.
The Government recently opened up a 12-week consultation to update vital Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) guidance supplied to local authorities to better cope with new digital ways of working following the boom in ride-hailing services.
Within the latest proposed guidance the Government suggests spot checks and mystery shoppers supplied by the licensing authorities could help identify cabbies not providing the expected levels of service.
In the consultation version of the new Taxi and PHV Licensing Best Practice Guidance, the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests: “Spot checks and “mystery shopping” can be a powerful tool in identifying drivers and operators that are not complying with the requirements and standards an authority should expect of its licensees. This tool can be particularly useful in identifying those which discriminate against disabled passengers, particularly when evidencing ad hoc incidents can be difficult for the passengers concerned.
“Authorities have used disabled staff volunteers to run such exercises, targeting locations or particular operators linked to complaints about discrimination, with enforcement officers on hand to take evidence to support potential future prosecutions. Publicising the use of such approaches may act as a deterrent to licensees considering refusing carriage to an assistance dog owner or wheelchair user.”
The DfT first issued best practice guidance to licensing authorities in 2006 and this was refreshed in 2010.
It has now been recognised that much has changed in the taxi and PHV industry and the time has come to update the guidance to ensure it reflects new ways of working, new technology and feedback from interested parties.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks from 28 March until 23.45pm on 20 June 2022.