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TAXI COP provides unique insight into rules around taxis undertaking private hire work

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

PC Patrick Quinton, a Taxi Enforcement Officer for Avon & Somerset Constabulary, has released a comprehensive fact sheet detailing the rules surrounding 'plying' and its policing. With many Hackney Carriage (HC) drivers also taking on Private Hire (PH) work in the area, PC Quinton aims to clarify some of the often-confusing aspects of this practice.

In the information sheet, PC Quinton addresses common questions and provides clear guidance for taxi drivers in the area. One frequently asked question is whether HC drivers can engage in PH work. The answer is yes, although not all operators utilise HC vehicles. Additionally, while HC drivers are allowed to work for any operator in any area, some councils specify that the majority of the work must be conducted within their own area, establishing the concept of "predominately working".

The fact sheet also clarifies the rules regarding which meter to use. It states that HC drivers, when operating within their own licensing area, must use their council meter. However, drivers are allowed to charge less than the amount displayed on the council meter at the end of the journey but are strictly prohibited from charging more. On the other hand, in situations where the journey begins or ends outside the licensing area, drivers can charge according to their operator meter or quote since the customer has accepted that rate during booking.

PC Quinton supports his information with legal references, including Section 66(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. To provide further clarity, he offers several examples that address different scenarios and explain the appropriate charging procedures.

The fact sheet also emphasises the importance of communication between drivers and operators, especially when dealing with contracted jobs. Both parties are responsible for sharing details of the meter charge or contract value to ensure that customers are not charged more than what is shown on the meter at the end of the journey. This includes all types of contract work, including school and executive/company-related trips.

The sheet addresses how to handle situations where HC vehicles from other licensing areas enter a particular region. PC Quinton suggests that if an HC vehicle is regularly seen in one's area, contacting the relevant licensing authority can be considered. This information will assist in conducting necessary checks on the vehicle's usage.

The fact sheet also offers valuable information for drivers engaging in PH work, such as the exemption from wearing a seatbelt only when a customer is on board. It advises caution when working outside one's licensing area, as drivers may no longer be considered "plying for hire" and can be penalised for not wearing seatbelts. Furthermore, the sheet highlights that bus lanes in certain areas are specifically designated for local Hackney Carriages, and drivers should be mindful of this restriction.

With regard to displaying the taxi roof sign, while licence conditions generally require its constant presence, PC Quinton suggests that for private hire work outside of a driver's licensing area, the removal of the taxi roof sign may be acceptable to avoid confusion among the public and concern from local Hackney Carriage drivers. However, it is recommended that drivers consult with their licensing authority before making any changes.

PC Patrick Quinton's fact sheet serves as a valuable guide for taxi drivers in Avon & Somerset, and those working under similar rules throughout most of England, helping them navigate the intricate rules surrounding 'plying' and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.


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