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Institute of Licensing consults on guidance on suitability of taxi, PHV applicants

The Institute of Licensing (IoL) has launched a consultation on proposed guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licensees in the hackney and private hire trades.

The IOL has worked in partnership with the Local Government Association, the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (NALEO) and Lawyers in Local Government on the project.

It said the document was intended to provide guidance on determining the suitability of applicants for taxi and private hire licences taking into account the character of the applicant or licensee and would be available for use by local authorities as a basis for their own policies.

“The guidance considers how regard should be had to the antecedent history of the applicant or licence holder and its relevance to their ‘fitness and propriety’ or ‘character’ – this would include previous convictions but may also include other information coming to light for the licensing authority to consider,” it added.

The IoL said widespread adoption of the standards presented in the guidance would effectively achieve a level of consistency when considering applications for taxi and private hire licences. 

“Recent media reports have highlighted the importance of vetting and assessing potential licence holders, and a level of consistency across the country would effectively prevent licence shopping where an individual refused in one area, is subsequently granted a licence in another area,” it noted. 

IoL President James Button said: “The safety and suitability of licensees in the taxi and private hire trades are fundamental to public safety. Unsuitable people undermine public trust and confidence in taxis and private hire vehicles and place passengers, many of whom are vulnerable people, at risk. These guidelines will help licensing authorities to improve standards for the benefit of everyone in our society.”

Stephen Turner, Chair of the Institute’s working party, said: “'In any place at any time’ is where and when you will see a taxi or private hire vehicle – it is also why local authorities need to be satisfied that the drivers, operators and owners of those vehicles are ‘safe and suitable’ in order to protect the public and in particular those who are vulnerable. This guidance will help to deliver that protection.”

John Miley, National Chair of NALEO, added: “NALEO is delighted to be a partner in developing these guidelines. It is vitally important that all those involved in the taxi and private hire trades are properly vetted to ensure the safety of the travelling public.  The guidelines will assist licensing authorities in the robust consideration of all applications, raising standards across the country for the protection of passengers and drivers alike.”

The consultation will close at midnight on 28 February 2018.