Members of Liverpool City Council Licensing committee today approved a proposal for the city's taxi and private hire drivers to undergo random drug testing after a number of cases where licence holders were driving while under the influence.
The decision will see current licence holders undergo randomised testing and new applicants, or those taxi and private hire drivers renewing their licence, will be requested to take a test if they have a conviction or caution for drug-related offences in the past three years.
In what the council is calling 'intelligence-led' testing, if the licensing authority feels they have 'credible reasons' to request a driver to undergo tests because of suspected drug use, they will have the powers to do so.
The policy discussed and agreed by members of the Licensing Committee, read: 'The City Council currently licences 4359 Taxi and Private Hire Drivers and is aware that a very small minority of these drivers use illegal drugs such as cocaine and cannabis on a recreational basis or as habitual users.
'The City Council views such drug use as being completely incompatible with being a fit and proper person to be entrusted with the safe carriage of the general public, in addition to the obvious dangers presented to other road users by such licensed drivers.
'This Policy, therefore, aims to establish procedures to allow for random and intelligence-led drugs testing of licensed drivers, with the intention of both detecting drivers who use illegal drugs and deterring such persons from continuing to use drugs.
'The Policy also provides a discretionary power for certain applicants applying for the grant of licences to drive taxis or private hire vehicles.
'Those applicants who have a criminal record involving drug-related offences would be required to pass a drugs test, at their own expense, as one part of the application process.
‘This Policy also provides a discretionary power for applicants seeking to renew their licences to drive taxis or private hire vehicles who have been convicted of an offence during the currency of their licence for drug-related matters.
'They will also be required to pass a drugs test at their own expense as one part of the renewal application process.'
Noting the anticipated outcomes of the proposal, it was agreed that introducing random drug testing will increase public safety as the number of drivers driving under the influence of drugs will reduce.
Members believe the testing will deter those drivers who are currently licenced who choose to take illegal drugs from continuing to do so, as drivers will be randomly chosen for a drugs test.
They also highlighted that the overall experience for the general public who are conveyed in these licensed Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicles would become greater.
It was also noted that the decision would raise the profile of Liverpool City Council as a Licensing Authority by becoming the first to offer this course of action outside of London.
Image credit: PXfuel/Liverpool City Council