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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Taxi licensing toughened up last year to protect passengers across England

Last year, measures introduced across Local Authorities will enhance passenger safety and crack down on unfit taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

Councils in England are now required to utilize a national database to record cases where drivers have their licenses revoked due to misconduct. This prevents them from easily obtaining a license in other areas, as the system will be alerted to concerns about their past behaviour. These measures aim to instil confidence in passengers, ensuring that taxis and private hire vehicles are safe and reliable modes of transportation. This will contribute to the strengthening of communities and the restoration of pride in towns and high streets nationwide.

Although the majority of taxi and private hire trips are safe and efficient, a small number of drivers have been associated with incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, and poor driving.

The step will bring into full force the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safety and Road Safety) Act 2022 and is being backed by the family of Sian O’Callaghan, who was tragically murdered by a private hire vehicle driver in Swindon in 2011, aged 22. Her family have since been campaigning for tougher measures to protect passengers. 

Sian's family said:“To see this law being implemented and rolled out today across all local authorities is testament to Sian, it was in her nature to help others and this means so much to us personally.  “Her name is now linked to a drastic improvement in passengers’ safety within taxis and PHVs, whilst also better protecting hard-working, law-abiding drivers themselves.”  

The Act, introduced last year, was spearheaded by Darlington MP Peter Gibson and has been supported by Ms O’Callaghan’s family and the personal safety charity, Suzy Lamplugh Trust.  

Suky Bhaker, CEO, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said:  “We welcome today’s announcement of tighter checks on drivers as an important milestone in steps to achieve this. It is vital that licensing authorities have access to all relevant information to decide if a driver meets licensing safety requirements.” 

The previous database was used voluntarily by some local authorities, but only 74% of councils in England were using it.  From April last year, use of the database became compulsory for every driver licence application and the Department for Transport will monitor its use closely. Councils that fail to do the necessary checks could face legal action.

Hosted by the National Anti-Fraud Network, the system records all instances where taxi and private hire vehicle driver licences have been refused, suspended or revoked on either safeguarding or road safety grounds.  

Improving information-sharing between licensing authorities prevents drivers who could do harm from getting a licence elsewhere without being challenged.

Hopefully this will make people feel safer travelling in taxis now!

This news story has been produced by Chesil Radio's News Team, for more information please visit:

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