A recent clampdown has revealed that worryingly high numbers of Birmingham’s private hire drivers are acting illegally.
A joint operation by West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council officials to address illegal plying for hire by private hire drivers has revealed widespread flaunting of regulations. The operation also revealed that three-quarters of the private hire vehicles checked in the city over a two day period were in a potentially dangerous condition.
Officers joined forces over the weekend of 9th-10th March in an undercover operation that involved plain clothes female police approaching un-booked private hire vehicles in the city’s entertainment district and asking to be taken to various locations. All of the five vehicles approached were willing to take the officers, in violation of their licences which state that private hire journeys must be pre-booked.
The other part of the operation saw uniformed police stopping private hire vehicles for licensing and vehicle safety checks. Out of the 36 vehicles stopped, 27 did not comply with one or more licence conditions or vehicle safety regulations, ranging from failing to display appropriate signs to defective vehicles that were taken off the road.
The aim of the operation was to highlight and address the risks of getting into un-booked or unlicensed vehicles, which can be even more serious for lone female passengers.
PC Sarah Little from Birmingham West and Central Public Protection Unit Safeguarding said: “If vehicles are not booked, passengers are not insured should there be an accident. Secondly, with no record of the journey, both passenger and driver are putting themselves at risk. If an incident occurs, no-one will know that the journey took place. Members of the public should book their journeys and be safe.”
Councillor Bruce Lines, chair of the city council’s Licensing Committee said, “Public safety is our top priority. Drivers who illegally ply for hire now risk having their licences revoked. I hope this exercise acts as a warning to all private hire drivers to make sure that they comply with the law”.