Several Nottinghamshire councils have joined forces to tackle rogue private hire vehicles and taxis.
Nottingham City, Gedling, Rushcliffe, Broxtowe, Bassetlaw and Newark & Sherwood have all signed the ‘Cross Border Enforcement Protocol.’ In a first for the region, it will give officers from each council the ability to check, challenge and enforce against each other’s licensed private hire vehicles and hackney cabs.
The agreement follows concerns that private hire drivers are illegally operating across different areas without the fare being ‘pre-booked’ – a criminal offence known as illegally plying for hire. Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, private hire taxis cannot be hailed in the street and councils are urging to people to ensure they travel safely by pre-booking through a reputable firm or using a licensed hackney cab.
As well as a criminal offence, the act of plying can also leave the driver and passengers uninsured. There are a number of other offences, behaviours and standards officers will be looking out for.
Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for community and customer services, Councillor Toby Neal, said: “The joint protocol will allow officers to work together with the aim of keeping the public safe, as well as helping to ensure we have a healthy private hire trade operating in our area. Illegally operating private taxis are a real concern but we also need to ensure suitable driver behaviours, safe vehicles that are maintained to high standards and be allowed to manage our streets.
“We will now begin to take a zero tolerance approach to taxis needlessly parking in bus stops, pedestrianised areas or parking dangerously. While we are working hard to support the trade, drivers need to understand their responsibilities.”
Under the protocol, officers will be able to check vehicle standards and remove its licence if they believe it poses a risk. They will also be able to check the driver’s identity and ensure they are operating legitimately.
Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Debbie Mason, said: “As a licensing authority we have a duty to ensure public safety and wherever possible licensed drivers operate lawfully in designated areas. This protocol will allow all of the officers to use their collective powers and work together across greater Nottingham.”
Gedling Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection, said: “This joint work will raise the standards we provide for customers using taxis across the region and will give our officers the tools they need to continue to enforce against illegal pickups, wherever they happen. This should act as a warning that we will prosecute drivers, wherever they are, who pick up passengers knowing it’s illegal to do so.”
An increased number of joint operations will now start as the joint effort seeks to catch those who put the public at risk.