Some taxi and private hire licensing authorities that are not sharing information ‘risk facilitating the few dishonest individuals’ says Department for Transport (DfT) Director.
In July the Government published new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards, where licensing authorities were encouraged to improve the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. Part of those measures included the use of the National Register of Taxi and Private Hire Licence Revocations and Refusals (NR3).
NR3 was launched in 2018 and according to DfT sources only 23 percent of licensing authorities in England are currently actively using it.
In a letter sent to Local Authorities by Stephen Fidler, DfT Director of Local Transport, it says: “Authorities that are not sharing relevant and necessary information risk facilitating the few dishonest individuals in the sector that fail to disclose any previous licensing history they might have. We ask those that have not signed up or started to use NR3 to do so as soon as possible as the effectiveness of the database depends on all licensing authorities using it.
“Ministers will also be engaging with council leaders on this matter to ask them to make sure that their licensing teams are using NR3 to ensure the sharing of vital information to help protect taxi and PHV passengers.”
The letter goes on to add: “Licensing authorities are under a statutory duty to ensure that only those that are ‘fit and proper’ hold a driver’s licence, NR3 is a key tool to ensuring this is the case. Thank you to those who have already begun using NR3 to help protect the public, and I urge other authorities to sign up and start using it as a matter of urgency.”
In July safeguarding training to help drivers identify and respond to passengers that may be being abused or exploited formed a key part of the new standards, as did criminal record checks for drivers every 6 months. A recommendation for licensing authorities to consider whether the use of CCTV would be beneficial or proportionate in their areas was also included, which sets out that potential privacy issues must be taken into account.