Passengers traveling in taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs), including app-based services, will be kept safer under tough new licensing standards that are set to be introduced in Wirral, following new Government advice to all local councils.
The new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards are designed to reduce the risk of harm posed to children and vulnerable passengers in the process. It follows historic and serious cases of taxi and PHV drivers abusing their position of trust elsewhere in the country.
The changes will see all taxi and private hire vehicle drivers undergo criminal record checks for drivers every six months, along with safeguarding training to help drivers identify and respond to passengers that may be being abused or exploited.
Following extensive consultation across government as well as with industry and regulators, the strengthened measures will mean all drivers applying for a licence should now be required to disclose if they hold or have previously held a licence in another area.
Local authorities such as Wirral will also now have to have robust reporting systems in place to make sure passengers feel comfortable reporting incidents and or suspicious behaviour. This follows the Casey Report which found there was inadequate investigation of some complaints in Rotherham.
Councillor Andrew Hodson (Conservative, Heswall Ward) said: “Taxi drivers have been a lifeline for many Wirral residents during the recent pandemic, delivering food and medicines while also helping key workers to get to and from work. The taxi drivers I meet are as appalled and disgusted as the rest of us by the actions of the small minority of drivers in places such as Rotherham and Rochdale. These new standards will help to protect both drivers and the passengers.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “We know the majority of drivers provide an important and safe service for communities, but in light of appalling incidents in places like Rochdale, Oxford, Newcastle and Rotherham, more must be done to protect passengers from those who abuse their position of trust.
“That’s why we’re looking to licensing authorities to enforce these rigorous new standards, ensuring drivers are fit to transport passengers in a safe environment and to stop those who aren’t. We expect all licensing authorities to implement the standards and won’t hesitate to introduce legislation if they don’t fulfil their responsibilities to keep the public safe.”
Wirral’s licensing department will be expected to fully implement these measures as soon as possible. The Government has also said they will closely monitor progress, work with authorities not meeting their responsibilities and look to introduce legislation if licensing authorities fail to adopt the standards and update their operations.