Taxi and private hire drivers licensed by Herefordshire Council could soon be subjected to a penalty points system to monitor whether they are fit-and-proper to continue holding a licence.
The council has set out a draft policy detailing how the system would work, as well as highlighting which licence and regulatory offences carry what penalty points.
The council has said the primary objective of the penalty points scheme is to improve the levels of compliance and to help improve the standards, safety and protection of the travelling public.
The draft policy reads: “The penalty points scheme works in conjunction with other enforcement options. It provides a formalised stepped enforcement plan. The purpose of the scheme is to record misdemeanours and to act as a record of licensees’ behaviour and conduct so as to ascertain whether they remain a safe and suitable person to be a vehicle driver or operator and/or suitable to hold a vehicle licence. It does not prejudice the Council's ability to take other action.”
If a licensee is thought to have breached a licence regulation, he or she will be asked to attend an interview. Once the investigation is completed, letters will be sent out detailing the outcome and a permanent record will be kept on the person’s file. The outcome of the investigation may result in officers determining that: no further action be taken; penalty points be imposed; a formal warning be issued, and/or prosecution.
If a licensee wishes to challenge the imposition of penalty points, an appeal will be referred to the Regulatory Committee. At that hearing the Committee can remove the penalty points, uphold the penalty points, increase the penalty points (and this includes imposing more points than displayed on the tariff), suspend or revoke the licence, or recommend prosecution.
Any penalty points issued would remain live or current for twelve months from the date the penalty points were imposed. If the decision was appealed to the Regulatory Committee, and the Committee uphold an imposition of points, those points will remain live for 12 months from the date of the Committee’s decision.
Where a licensee accumulates more than 12 penalty points in any 12 month period, the matter will be referred to the Regulatory Committee for the Committee to decide whether the driver remains a fit and proper person.
Some of the offences which carry the highest number of penalty points; 12, include failure to have the correct insurance, providing alcoholic drinks not in accordance with the sale or supply of alcohol legislation, failure to supply annual self-declaration and fee, carrying a greater number of persons than the number specified on the licence and failing to notify of motoring offences over 3 penalty points or criminal convictions during the licence period.
Operators will also be under the spotlight and face a penalty points system. Some of the offences which carry the highest points for operators include Operating the business from a premises outside the county of Herefordshire, failure to record, maintain or provide details of checks on dispatch staff in a register and failure to establish, maintain or provide a policy on employing ex-offenders to the licensing authority.
A full list of offences and what penalty points they carry can be found at Herefordshire.gov.uk.