The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), presented a report on the Draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy – Approval to commence consultation.
Members were reminded that at the meeting held on 21st September 2020, the Committee received a report regarding the Statutory Standards and were asked to note that officers would now begin a review of all of the Council’s hackney carriage and private hire licensing policies.
Members were informed that a review of all of the Council’s hackney carriage and private hire licensing policies had now been undertaken in response to the publication by the Department for Transport of guidance under section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 entitled “Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Standards.” This work had culminated in the production of a new draft hackney carriage and private hire licensing policy, which officers believe should now be consulted upon.
This review had now been undertaken and had led to the production of a new
draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, as detailed at
Appendix 2 to the report.
Section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 enabled the Secretary of State
to issue statutory guidance to taxi and private hire licensing authorities as to
how their licensing functions may be exercised so as to protect children and
vulnerable individuals who were 18 and over from harm.
The legislation was to a large extent prompted by the Jay and Casey reports
on child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) in Rotherham. Both of these
reports highlighted examples of taxi / private hire vehicle drivers being directly
linked to children that were abused, including instances when children were
picked up from schools, children’s homes or from family homes and abused or
A public consultation on the draft statutory guidance ran between 12 February
2019 and 22 April 2019. Following lengthy consideration of the consultation
responses, the Department for Transport published guidance entitled Statutory
Taxi & Private Hire Standards (hereafter referred to as “the Standards”) on 21
July 2020, as detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.
The Standards contained a number of recommendations regarding matters
connected to taxi and private hire licensing functions which included:-
The Statutory Standards stated that:-
“Whilst the focus of the Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards is on protecting children and vulnerable adults, all passengers will benefit from the recommendations contained in it. There is consensus that common core minimum standards are required to regulate better the taxi and private hire vehicle sector, and the recommendations in this document are the result of detailed discussion with the trade, regulators and safety campaign groups.
The Department for Transport therefore expects these recommendations to be implemented unless there is a compelling local reason not to.”
It was clear that there was a desire by the Government to see consistent
standards applied by taxi and private hire licensing authorities across the
Members were further informed that draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire
Licensing Policy, as detailed at Appendix 2 to the report, was based on a
template that had been created with a view to each of the six district Councils
in Worcestershire adopting new policy statements that were substantially
similar to one another, particularly in relation to the licensing of hackney
carriage and private hire drivers and private hire operators.
Whilst a large number of the recommendations set out in the statutory
standards were already being met within the Council’s existing policies, the
draft policy was drafted so as to incorporate any of the recommendations that
were not already being followed.
The Department for Transport recommended guidelines on the assessment of
previous convictions had been inserted into the draft policy with a view to them
being adopted without variation.
The draft policy explicitly stated that the Council would not licence any individual
who appeared on either the children or adult barred lists maintained by the
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The draft policy also stated that the Council would make referrals to the DBS
where a decision was taken to refuse or revoke a licence as the individual was
thought to present a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult.
The draft policy also committed the Council to using the National Register of
Taxi License Revocations and Refusals register (NR3), delivered by the
National Anti Fraud Network (NAFN) to support due diligence. As well as
checking details of new applicants against NR3, the draft policy stated that the
Council would submit information to NR3 of any decisions taken to refuse or
revoke a driver licence.
The statutory standards included recommendations regarding requiring
applicants for licences to undertake safeguarding training and to demonstrate
that they had suitable proficiency in both oral and written English.
Further to these recommendations, the draft policy contained a requirement for
new applicants to obtain the “Worcestershire Taxi and Private Hire Competency
Certificate.” To obtain this certificate an applicant for a licence would need to
demonstrate that they possessed a suitable level of skills, knowledge and
understanding in a number of areas including safeguarding and English
To support this, officers were currently working to find and approve a suitably
qualified and experienced training provider to deliver the Worcestershire Taxi
and Private Hire Competency Certificate. It was hoped that requiring applicants
to obtain this qualification was something that would be adopted by all six
district Councils in Worcestershire as they revised their policies in response to
the Statutory Standards.
In line with recommendations in the Statutory Standards, the draft policy also
contained more robust licence conditions applicable to those the Council
authorised to operate private hire vehicles. These included conditions relating
to record keeping and requirements to undertake criminality checks on their
booking and despatch staff.
The draft policy also introduced a requirement for those applying for a licence
to use a vehicle as either a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle to provide
a basic criminal record certificate, unless they were already licensed by the
Council to drive hackney carriage and/or private hire vehicles.
The Statutory Standards say that licensing authorities should “consult on
proposed changes in licensing rules that may have significant impacts on
passengers and/or the trade. Such consultation should include not only the taxi
and private hire vehicle trades but also groups likely to be the trades’
Should Members approve officers consulting on the draft Hackney Carriage and
Private Hire Licensing Policy, as detailed at Appendix 2 to the report; the
consultation would ask respondents if they could provide any evidence of a
compelling local reason why the Council should not implement those proposed
changes to the Council’s policy that followed recommendations contained in the
Respondents would also be invited to make comment on anything else
contained in the draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy,
including the standard conditions that the Council would attach to licences.
The results of this consultation would be reported back to a future meeting of
the Committee for consideration by Members, before any decisions were taken
about adopting a new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.
In response to questions from Members, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS, explained that the National Register of Refusals and Revocations (NR3), which had been developed and was hosted by the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN) having been commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), was not particularly well used at present.
The National Register of Taxi License Revocations and Refusals register (NR3)
database would enable officers to access and check the database and request
any relevant information. If the Council refused or revoked a driver licence,
officers would be able to log this on the NR3 database. It was seen as an
additional tool for officers to use, in order to help Licensing Sub-Committee
Members make an informed decision on an applicant. However, the NR3 would
only be as useful as the number of authorities that signed up to it and put
information into the database. By including it in the Statutory Standards the
Department for Transport was hoping that all authorities would sign up to it, and
officers were hoping that all 6 Worcestershire authorities would sign up.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS, responded to further questions
from Members with regards to the Worcestershire Taxi and Private Hire
Competency Certificate and explained that officers were currently working to
find and approve a suitably qualified and experienced training provider to
deliver the Worcestershire Taxi and Private Hire Competency Certificate. The
Competency Certificate would cover the skills required, as detailed on page 61
of the report. Worcestershire County Council already delivered similar training.
It might by an option for officers from WRS to deliver the training, but that would
depend on WRS having the resources in place to deliver such training. Officers
would consider the best option to deliver the training as it was detailed specific
training. Officers would also see what training providers were able to deliver
Officers had looked to bring together existing training and the training required
in the Statutory Standards, whilst safeguarding awareness was currently
offered it was not mandatory.
The intention was that everyone who applied for a hackney carriage, private
hire or dual licence would have to undertake the Competency Certificate, with
an additional module added, for those applying for a hackney carriage
licence in order to demonstrate their local knowledge of the district.
Officers were not looking to make the Competency Certificate mandatory to
those who were already licenced, as the Council had already deemed them to
be ‘Fit and Proper’ to hold such a licence; and they would have already
undertaken training, NVQ Level 2 in Road Passenger Transport or an equivalent
qualification and Disability Awareness training. It was not considered
proportionate and fair to expect existing licensed drivers to undertake additional
In response to questions from Members with regard to safety advice to licensed
drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing),
WRS, reassured the Committee that officers had maintained regular contact
with license holders. Officers had placed information on the WRS website,
emailed and provided advice and information to drivers and operators on
keeping themselves and their customers safe during the pandemic. Officers
had regularly communicated with licensed drivers on a number of times in order
to provide up to date information as new Government guidelines were received.
Licensed drivers by the nature of their role were in an occupation that was at
risk, as it was difficult to maintain social distancing in a number of licensed
vehicles, so licensed drivers were at a higher risk and officers were keen to
provide as much advice and information as possible and would continue to do
RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted, and that Officers undertake
consultation with the relevant stakeholders on the draft Hackney Carriage and
Private Hire Licensing Policy, as detailed at Appendix 2 to the report.