Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy

Overview

The Council is inviting comments on it's revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.

You are encouraged to read the revised policy in full; however the most significant proposals are listed below and include the incorporation of the national standards to which all Licensing Authorities must have regard to in carrying out their licensing function.

Environmental Considerations

In accordance with this Borough’s Biodiversity and Climate Action Plan the policy has been updated to reflect the commitment to becoming a carbon neutral borough by 2030, with the introduction of a Carbon Neutral Vehicle Policy. All vehicle that come to the end of their licensable lives will need to be replaced with a carbon neutral vehicle, your views are sought on when this should be implemented from:-

Please indicate the option that is preferred:

  • September 2022
  • March 2023
  • September 2023

Incorporation of the new Statutory Taxi and Private hire Vehicle Standards

Summary of Taxi Policy Changes
Heading Statutory Requirement Current Position
NR3 Database This should be used by licensing authorities (nationally) to share information on a more consistent basis to mitigate the risk of nondisclosure of relevant information by applicants

This Council like the majority has not yet signed up to the national database for sharing refusal or revocation information.

This requires incorporation into the Policy and an additional separate consultation with the trade

Amendment made to page 8/9 of the policy and Appendix 2 pages 29 & 30

Driver licensing criminality checks

Licensing authorities are entitled to request an enhanced criminal record certificate with check of the barred lists from the DBS for all driver licence holders or applicants. The DfT’s 2019 survey of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing authorities shows that all licensing authorities in England and Wales have a requirement that an enhanced DBS check is undertaken at first application or renewal. All individuals applying for or renewing a taxi or private hire vehicle drivers licence licensing authorities should carry out a check of the children and adult Barred Lists in addition to being subject to an enhanced DBS check (in section x61 of the DBS application ‘Other Workforce’ should be entered in line 1 and ‘Taxi Licensing’ should be entered at line 2).

All licensed drivers should also be required to evidence continuous registration with the DBS update service to enable the licensing authority to routinely check for new information every six months. Drivers that do not subscribe up to the Update Service should still be subject to a check every six months.

This Council like many has signed up to a conducting DBS checking every 3 years.

The increased frequency of every 6 months will require a mandatory change of taxi policy to require all licence holders to sign up to the online checking facility at a cost of £13 per year.

There is a lot of work to do for the staff to change our expiry check dates for all our drivers to every 6 months rather than 3 years.

It will require licensees to be mandated to use email as primary contact with DBS Services & licensing.

Conditions can be applied to Private hire drivers licence  but not Hackney drivers licences in relation to the online service.

It is also recommended that an administrative

fee of £40 is applied in addition to the cost of the DBS application if  any manual enhanced check  needs to be carried out because the applicant failed to register.

This degree of checking is likely to impact hugely on our resources

This fee will be included in the fee reports for 2021/22

This requires incorporation into the Policy

Amendments made at pages 6, 8, 11, 12 & Appendix 9, page 78

Vehicle Licensing/Operators

It is important that licensing authorities are assured that those granted a vehicle licence also pose no threat to the public and have no links to serious criminal activity. Although vehicle proprietors may not have direct contact with passengers, they are still entrusted to ensure that the vehicles and drivers used to carry passengers are appropriately licensed and so maintain the safety benefits of the licensing regime. Criminality checks for vehicle proprietors Enhanced DBS and barred list checks are not available for vehicle licensing. Licensing authorities should require a basic disclosure from the DBS and that a check is undertaken annually.

Criminality checks for private hire vehicle operators Enhanced DBS and barred list checks are not available for private hire vehicle operator licensing. Licensing authorities should request a basic disclosure from the DBS and that a check is undertaken annually

Licensing authorities should, as a condition of granting an operator licence, require a register of all staff that will take bookings or dispatch vehicles is kept.

This Council like many has signed up to a conducting DBS checking.

Most Operators are themselves licensed as drivers and have undergone enhanced checking. On the rare occasion an Operators licence is applied for where the applicant is not a driver a basic DBS checks is undertaken for the specified for a 1,3 or 5 year period.

As at 13. This degree of checking is likely to impact hugely on our resources

This requires incorporation into the Policy.

DBS

Included in Policy at page 22 and Appendix 7, page 67

Booking and dispatch Staff

Included in Policy at pages 21- 22  & 23 and Appendix 7, page 67

In-vehicle visual and audio recording-CCTV

The Department’s view is that CCTV can provide additional deterrence to prevent this and investigative value when it does. The use of CCTV can provide a safer environment for the benefit of taxi/private hire vehicle passengers and drivers by:

* deterring and preventing the occurrence of crime.

* reducing the fear of crime.

* assisting the police in investigating incidents of crime.

* assisting insurance companies in investigating motor vehicle accidents. All licensing authorities should consult to identify if there are local circumstances which indicate that the installation of CCTV in vehicles would have either a positive or an adverse net effect on the safety of taxi and private hire vehicle users, including children or vulnerable adults, and taking into account potential privacy issues.

This Council has been awaiting clearer national guidance on CCTV.

It has not made installation of audio and CCTV mandatory; there has been no formal reporting or investigation by police for incidents within licensed vehicles.

Costs are met by the vehicle owner and costs are prohibitive at a minimum of £500 per CCTV unit.

Mandatory requirement places the Data responsibilities on the Council.

This requires further review with the licence holders and need to consult if we are to make it a mandatory requirement.

There has been some expansion to this section of the policy at page 20.

Anyone wishing to comment can do so by emailing licensing@maidstone.gov.uk before midnight on Friday 10 March 2021.  Any comments relating to specific aspects of the policy should include reference to the associated section and page number.

All responses received before the consultation closes will be taken into consideration for inclusion in the final draft that will be presented to the council’s Licensing Committee for post-consultation scrutiny before being put before Full Council in April. The final, approved, policy will take effect from 1 May 2021.

Associated Documents

Draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy

Time scale

Closed 10 March 2021

Contact us

Email us if you want more information on this consultation.

consultations@maidstone.gov.uk