An investigation has revealed that over 100 taxi drivers around Birmingham are licensed to operate, despite having been convicted for crimes including: speeding, driving without insurance and drug dealing.
The Freedom of Information Act has revealed details of 114 of 6,000 licenced drivers in the city, to have previous criminal convictions. This figure does not include those licenced by other councils, the true figure is likely to be much higher.
Birmingham now faces pressure from the community and Perry Barr Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood is among those to demand change. He stated ‘attention needs to be urgently put to this’ in order to ensure the safety for all passengers.
Mr Mahmood has called for the introduction of regional standards to stop the practice of drivers approaching councils with less expensive licensing fees or those seen as more lenient. Wolverhampton, in particular, has come under fire for issuing licenses to drivers based miles away.
The West Midlands Combined Authority is believed to be looking into the matter and Birmingham licensing chief, Chris Neville, has said: “We take taxi licensing and public safety very seriously.
”All applications for new Hackney Carriage or private hire drivers’’ licences are subject to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and all licensed drivers must be DBS-checked every three years.
‘‘Any applicants or licence holders with convictions for dishonesty, drugs, violence or sexual offences are brought before one of the licensing sub-committees, who then determine whether they are a fit and proper person to hold a licence
‘‘We are currently looking at some aspects of our taxi-licensing policy including recommending that councillors should not be able to give references for taxi drivers.
“We will also be consulting on proposals to prevent other elected persons, including MPs, MEPs, elected mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners, from doing the same.
In deciding whether a driver is considered to be fit and proper, a sub-committee will take into account the nature of the offence, length of time since conviction, the driver’s character and any other relevant information’’.