The government has announced new safety standards for taxi and private hire vehicles. This follows consultation with the trade, regulators and safety campaign groups in the wake of taxi and private hire drivers abusing their position of trust.
The Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) Standards are designed to protect children and vulnerable adults. However, the government says that all passengers will benefit from the recommendations.
Local authorities will be expected to implement the standards to improve consistency in the licensing system, reducing the risk to children and vulnerable passengers. The key recommendations are:
- Criminal record checks for drivers every six months
- Safeguarding training for drivers
- Considering the use of CCTV
‘Fit to transport passengers’
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.”
In a 40-page document, the government labels taxis and private hire vehicles as a ‘high-risk environment’. By applying data from Greater Manchester and Merseyside across England, 623 sexual assaults per year are reported, it says. Common core minimum standards are required to regulate the industry, it follows.
Licensing authorities are expected to implement these recommendations ‘unless there is a compelling local reason not to’. The Department for Transport (DfT) will monitor progress, work with authorities not meeting their responsibilities and look to introduce legislation if necessary.