City of Wolverhampton Council (CWC) look set to begin a six-week consultation looking at the viability of wide-spread taxi and minicab partition screens in vehicles.
The news follows the sad death of a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) driver, which has prompted the Private Hire Trade Working Group to express a desire for Driver Safety Enclosures (DSE).
Minicab driver, Anakh Singh, 59, was found dead with serious injuries in Nine Elms Lane in late September 2022. A post mortem was carried out but the results were inconclusive.
Mr Singh was working for Wolverhampton-based ABC Cars, who set up a JustGiving page raising nearly £12,000 for his family.
A report has now been made by the council and will be heard at a Regulatory Committee meeting on 11 January to discuss the consultation's approval.
The Committee has already permitted vehicle proprietors to install CCTV within their vehicle, if it complies with the Council’s Taxi CCTV Policy, newer equipment is now available to protect drivers.
However, partition equipment is not covered by current Licensing Services’ policies.
The screens rose to prominence during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, they are typically rigid plastic enclosures which are installed in a vehicle, to segregate the driver from the passengers.
The Council’s report acknowledges the protective features of the products but recognises that amateur installation and unapproved products result in increased risks, particularly in relation to road traffic collisions.
A shortened six-week consultation has been requested where the following will be consulted:
Service users (licence holders and applicants)
The Hackney Carriage Trade Working Group
The Private Hire Trade Working Group
Other licensing authorities
National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers (NALEO)
Institute of Licensing (IoL)
Black Country Magistrates' Court
Department for Transport (DfT)
West Midlands Police
Equality Diversity and Inclusion Team.