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News, comment and advice on the UK taxi and private hire trades

Government scraps plans to relax taxi licensing rules

Posted by admin on October 17th, 2014

Source: LGA

LGA press release 15 October 2014

Commenting on the Government’s withdrawal of plans to relax taxi licensing rules within the Deregulation Bill, Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“We are delighted that after concerted LGA lobbying, the Government has listened to our concerns and withdrawn plans to relax rules about who can drive licensed minicabs. Councils – alongside children’s charities, personal safety organisations and taxi drivers themselves – have long-warned that this unwanted change would increase the public safety risk to people using minicabs.

“When people get into a taxi, they put their trust in the fact that the person driving the car has been vetted and licensed and that it is safe to be in a vehicle with them, especially if they are travelling alone. Anyone getting into a minicab should be assured that the only person allowed to drive the car has had their background checked, and it is right that Government has now agreed to let councils maintain this protection.

“Government should also now delete the two remaining taxi clauses in the Deregulation Bill, which would increase the length of driver licences and enable minicab firms to sub-contract bookings to other firms from different areas, without any requirement to tell the person making a booking.

“Our own opinion polling shows 80 per cent of women would be concerned if they booked a journey with one firm and a different one turned up.

“Councils support comprehensive reform of taxi licensing but on the basis of the whole of the recent Law Commission report and not through this unwise piecemeal approach that could have a negative impact on public safety.”

Notes to editors

The poll found:

Seventy-three per cent of people polled would be very or fairly concerned if they booked a minicab from one firm and a minicab from another firm turned up – including 80 per cent of women.

Eighty-five per cent of those polled said they were fairly or very concerned about the plans – including 91 per cent of women.

1. Telephone Omnibus – Populus Data Solutions
(Minicab survey data (PDF, 5 pages, 61KB)) • A representative telephone survey of 741 English adults aged 18+, living outside of London, was conducted. London residents were excluded since the proposed new taxi licensing rules already apply in London.

• The survey took place 10-12 October 2014.

• 50 per cent of the sample was contacted via landline and 50 per cent via mobile to ensure that the correct proportion of mobile only households is achieved.

• Sample methodology: RDD (Random Digit Dialling).

• Quotas are set on age, gender and region and the data weighted to the known GB profile of age, gender, region, social grade, taken a foreign holiday in the last three years, tenure, number of cars in the household, working status, and mobile only household.

2. The Government has dropped Clause 10 from the Deregulation Bill which would have allowed anyone to drive a licensed minicab when off duty. This follows extensive LGA lobbying supported by the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Victim’s Support, Age UK and the GMB Taxi Union.

3. Further taxi and minicab clauses remaining within the Bill will end annual license renewal for minicab drivers and enable minicab operators to subcontract a booking to another operator, licensed in a different area. The Bill returns to the House of Lords Committee Stage on Tuesday 21 October.

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Taxi driver not liable for injuries sustained by fare jumping claimants

Posted by admin on October 7th, 2014

Beaumont & O’Neill v Ferrer
High Court
16 July 2014

In the recent High Court case of Beaumont & O’Neill v Ferrer (2014) two claimants, who were seriously injured whilst attempting to fare jump a taxi, failed in their attempt to claim damages from the defendant taxi driver. Not only had the claimants brought their injuries upon themselves by their actions, but the principle of ex turpi causa operated to preclude them from succeeding.

The defendant taxi driver received a call one evening to make a pickup in Salford. On arrival he found six youths waiting. His taxi was a minivan with three rows of seats. One youth got in the front passenger seat, three in the middle row and the remaining two, the claimants, sat in the back row.

The youths asked the defendant to take them to Manchester but they had already agreed amongst themselves that they would ‘jump the taxi’ and make off without paying the £10 fare.

As the taxi stopped at a set of traffic lights near to the intended destination, the three youths sitting in the middle row of the taxi, got out and ran off. One of the escaping youths had tried to release the middle row seats to help the claimants out of the back row but was unable to do so. Another of the youths closed the offside sliding door.

The defendant then decided to drive off with the three remaining youths whilst the two claimants tried to climb over the back seats. As the taxi approached a corner, the first claimant suddenly left the vehicle. He had opened the offside door and positioned himself to get out. As he tried to leave he fell out backwards hitting his head on the road, sustaining a serious brain injury. Within seconds of his companion’s exit, the second claimant left the taxi and also fell sustaining serious injury.

Kenneth Parker J dismissing the claimants’ claims held:

In relation to the first claimant, the witness evidence that the defendant ‘seemed to take the corner normally’ was reliable and there was an overwhelming probability that the claimant chose to jump or step out of the moving taxi. He had taken a recklessly obvious risk to join his companions in crime and escape any other unwelcome consequences of his actions. The judge came to this conclusion without reference to the expert evidence but when considering that evidence did agree with the proposition that the taxi was right at the beginning of its turn, thus limiting the lateral force on the claimant’s fall.

In relation to the second claimant, the judge rejected the claimant’s expert evidence that the defendant’s overcorrection of the vehicle imparted such lateral force that the claimant fell out. The claimant had simply jumped out of the moving taxi.

The defendant had not done anything to put the claimants in the position where they were poised to exit the taxi and whilst the judge did not believe that fear of attack was the defendant’s dominant motive in driving off, it did play a part in his decision to drive off.

Even if the defendant was in breach of his duty of care by driving on as he did, that breach did not cause the claimants’ injuries as the conduct of each claimant in jumping or stepping out of the taxi broke the causal link between the fault and damage. Both claimants had the undeniable opportunity to resume their seats in the taxi and to put their seat belts back on at which point neither would have then sustained serious injuries. Instead the claimants deliberately chose to position themselves at an opened door of the taxi and jump/step out as the taxi was moving away. In essence, the claimants brought about the injury to themselves.

The judge rejected the claimants’ submission that the defendant breached his contract by driving on, discharging the claimants’ obligation to pay a fare. There was no act on the part of the defendant that converted the claimants from members of a joint criminal enterprise into genuine passengers by the time each jumped, or stepped out of the taxi.

The claimants had also argued that their offending was not of such gravity that it should engage the public policy of ex turpi causa. The judge commented that taxi drivers provide a valuable service to the community including to the vulnerable and disabled members of the community who would have substantial difficulty in travelling on public transport. Dishonest evasion of the fare by an individual or group should not be dismissed as just another inevitable expense of driving a taxi but should be seen for reasons of public policy as a pernicious and reprehensible practice.

Accordingly, the claimants who intended to engage in a criminal activity were precluded by the policy of ex turpi causa from succeeding in these claims and no part of the claimants’ loss could be attributed to the defendant.

This decision follows the Court of Appeal’s consideration of the principle of ex turpi causa in Gray v Thames Trains (2009) and Joyce v O’Brien (2014.) The distinction between this case and the latter was that the driver was not engaged in a criminal enterprise with the claimants.

The claims were dismissed on two grounds. They firstly failed on causation. Even if the taxi driver had breached his duty of care towards the claimants by driving off while they were standing inside the van and unrestrained, this did not cause the claimants’ losses. The losses occurred because of the claimants’ conduct in stepping or jumping from the vehicle as it was moving. This broke the chain of causation and in essence, the claimants brought their injuries upon themselves.

The claims also foundered upon the ex turpi causa defence. The circumstances of the accident were inextricably linked with the claimants’ criminal enterprise and therefore the principle was engaged. The court rejected the submission of the claimants’ counsel that the prospective offence was not sufficiently serious to invoke the defence of ex turpi; in fact it held that there were strong public policy reasons to apply it in this case.

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Two men arrested on suspicion of murdering taxi driver 20 years ago

Posted by admin on September 24th, 2014

Source: Nottingham Post

POLICE have arrested two men on suspicion of murdering a 26-year-old taxi driver nearly 20 years ago.

Ethsham Ghafoor was shot dead in an ‘execution-style’ murder while sitting inside his taxi in the car park of a nursery in Lambley Lane, Gedling, on November 22, 1994.

The men, aged 42 and 43, will be questioned in connection with the inquiry throughout the day.

Mr Ghafoor, known to his friends and family as Shami, was a popular man who lived in Sherwood. More than 1,000 mourners turned out for his funeral at the Islamic Centre, in Curzon Street.

Last year, relatives took to Facebook to launch the page Justice for Ethsham Ghafoor, asking people to come forward with information.

Despite numerous appeals by police and family over the years, the case is one of Nottingham’s longest unsolved murder investigations.

Anyone with any information about the murder is asked to contact the incident room on 0115 8446913.

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Milton Keynes taxi driver rapist: David Cameron criticises ‘bad decision’

Posted by admin on September 4th, 2014

Source: BBC Online

David Cameron has said it was a “bad decision” to allow a convicted rapist to become a taxi driver in Milton Keynes.

Members of a licensing committee saw a document detailing crimes committed by Nadeem Ahmed Kiani before they decided to grant him a licence in 2011. The 44-year-old was imprisoned in 1994 for rape and serious sexual assault. His taxi licences have been revoked.

The prime minister said it was a “rather shocking story”. Mr Cameron said it was the government’s responsibility to “set the ground rules” and advised local authorities to check whether drivers were “fit and proper persons”. “We advise they should do Criminal Record Bureau checks,” he said.

“It’s obvious in this case that the council followed the correct procedures but then made a bad decision. “When that happens, the person making that decision should bear the consequences.” Milton Keynes mayor Subhan Shafiq, who had vouched for Kiani, resigned from his post last week.

The document detailed how Kiani and a co-defendant had picked up prostitutes in a vehicle, threatened them with weapons, then raped and sexually abused them. Mr Shafiq had described Kiani as “a friend” and spoke of his “good current character and family circumstances”. Kiani was sentenced to eight years imprisonment at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in October 1994. His name was also added to the sex offenders register.

Milton Keynes Council leader Peter Marland said Mr Shafiq should examine his conscience over whether he could even continue as a councillor. Meanwhile, a council investigation found seven of the area’s taxi drivers had criminal convictions. One, who was convicted of a sexual offence, has not had his licence taken away.

Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, described the news as “one of those absolute jaw-dropping moments”. “We have a duty to ensure the safety of our residents and being a taxi driver means you’re in a confined space with an individual who could be vulnerable,” he said.

“We need to toughen our approach to the licensing process. “I accept people go to prison and serve their sentences, and after a period of rehabilitation, that conviction is spent. “But there are some offences that are so severe, like rape or sexual assault, that mean you should never be allowed to become a taxi driver,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Taxis and private hire vehicles are licensed by local authorities in England and Wales. “Local licensing authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that any person to whom they grant a driver’s licence is a fit and proper person.”

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Perv taxi driver jailed for sex assaults on teen girls in Dover

Posted by admin on August 20th, 2014

Source: Dover Express

A LECHEROUS taxi driver who sexually assaulted two teen girls who had been on nights out in Dover has been jailed.

Creepy cabbie Rezgar Hassan, 22, of High Street, Dover, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of sexual assault and sentenced to three years imprisonment on Monday.

Iraqi Hassan, who was also subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely, has also been recommended for deportation.

In the early hours of January 27, 2013, Hassan was driving a taxi in Market Square when he accepted a fare from a 19-year-old and her two friends, Canterbury Crown Court heard. The victim sat in the front seat of the taxi and during the course of the journey, felt Hassan put his hand on her leg. It was then that he inappropriately touched her.

Upon exiting the taxi, the victim told her friends and the following day she reported it to police. Hassan was arrested and he was later picked out in an identity parade.

In a second incident, in the early hours of March 10, 2013, a 17-year-old girl was waiting at the train station at Dover Priory. Hassan was again in his taxi and approached the teenager, offering her a lift home to Folkestone for free. He told her to sit in the back seat with a cover over her as he had another passenger to collect. Once that person had been dropped off, she got in the front seat.

Hassan told her to recline her seat and then started asking intimate questions. He told her if she showed him her breasts, he would let her go. He then pulled her top down and inappropriately touched her before allowing the girl to get out.

Investigating officer, PC Natasha Russell of Kent Police, said: “It was clear when investigating these two individual reports that Hassan had preyed on his young victims, taking full advantage of their vulnerability. “After having been on a night out in the town, both victims did the right thing by getting a taxi home. They expected the taxi to be a place of safety, but instead Hassan took full advantage of his position.

“I would like to personally thank both victims for showing courage and bravery and coming forward to report what had happened to them. “The sentencing reflects the seriousness of the crime and should serve as a warning that neither Kent Police nor the courts will accept this type of behaviour.”

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Farnworth 2-year-old finds suspected drugs packet in back of Metro taxi

Posted by admin on August 6th, 2014

Source: Bolton News

A FATHER has warned minicab drivers to check their vehicles after a toddler found a packet suspected to be drugs.

James Clayton was travelling to his mum’s home in Breightmet in a Metro Cars private hire vehicle when his two-year-old daughter Hollie picked up a small snap bag containing white powder from the middle seat.

Mr Clayton, a ground worker from Farnworth, told the driver and later phoned the Tonge Moor Road firm to explain what happened.

He said the company said it advised drivers to check their seats between picking up passengers.

Mr Clayton, aged 27, said: “I just want people to be aware of what could be in the cars. If my daughter had put that in her mouth she would have chewed it and her teeth would have gone straight through the packet.

“I had just put my little girl on the seat and she picked the packet up. I snatched it out of her hand.”

He also called police following the incident on Saturday, and they are due to collect the packet from Mr Clayton.

A police spokesman confirmed an incident had been reported on Saturday at about 3.20pm.

The spokesman said: “An appointment has been made to go and see the caller.”

Nick Astley, from Metro Cars, said: “It’s protocol for drivers of all companies to check after people have left the vehicles but with something so small can be impossible to find.

“I am sorry that the little girl found it. It is very upsetting. We can only learn from it. We ask customers to be vigilant as well.

“It could have been found anywhere but around young children we especially need to have our eyes and ears open.

“It is important people involved in drugs are dealt with appropriately and they get the highest possible sentence.”

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