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Scottish Government unveils crackdown on criminals operating behind front of private taxi firms

Kenny MacAskill: Wrongly focused on numbers not roles. Picture: TSPL

Kenny MacAskill: Wrongly focused on numbers not roles. Picture: TSPL

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

A CRACKDOWN on criminal gangs who operate behind the front of private hire taxi firms was today unveiled by the Scottish Government.

• Councils would be given the power to restrict numbers of private hire cards and test drivers for local knowledge

• Taxi firm owners and drivers would have to prove themselves to be ‘fit and proper’ under the new proposals

• Licensing officers could be handed new beefed up enforcement powers

A crackdown on criminal gangs who operate behind the front of private hire taxi firms was today unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Councils could be given the power to restrict the number of private hire cars and test drivers for their local knowledge, under the proposals.

The current licensing regime would also be extended to cover businesses with fewer than four cars and without offices, to ensure all vehicles and drivers used are part of the licence granted.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “These proposals should make a significant step towards addressing concerns raised about the need to make improvements to the current licensing regime.

“While the vast majority of taxi firms operate within the law, this will also address the influence of criminal groups and individuals within the taxi and private hire trades.

“The taxi and private hire sectors are very important to the Scottish economy and it is essential that they are regulated to the appropriate standards, so that the public is protected from harm while using the service and the industry is protected from infiltration by organised crime.

Taxi firm owners and drivers would also have to prove they are “fit and proper”, under the proposals which are now going out to consultation.

Licensing officers could be handed new beefed up enforcement powers.

Bill McIntosh of the Scottish Taxi Federation said: “The Scottish Taxi Federation has long been calling for changes to the licensing regime so we welcome this consultation.

“Passengers will want to know that they are being served by responsible businesses, and taxi firms and drivers also need more protection from rogue elements, and assurance that the licensing regime is consistent in its aims across Scotland.”

 

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