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Taxi Policy - Drivers

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Fit and Proper Test

Legislation requires that hackney carriage and private hire drivers should be "fit and proper" but does not provide a definition as to what constitutes fit and proper. Applicants must, however, be over 18 years of age and hold a full DVLA or equivalent driver's licence.

This Authority will use the following test in considering the fitness and proprietary of an applicant for a licence:

Without prejudice, and based on the information before you, would you allow a person for whom you care, regardless of their condition, to travel alone in a vehicle driven by this person at any time of day or night?

If on the balance of probabilities, the answer to the question is 'no', the individual should not hold a licence. Applicants or licence holders will not be given the benefit of doubt. It is useful to note that the threshold used here is lower than for a criminal conviction (that being beyond reasonable doubt) and the Authority can take into consideration, conduct that has not resulted in a criminal conviction.

The Authority is not fettered in its discretion as to what can be taken into consideration regarding the "fit and proper" test but routinely considers a person's conduct, knowledge, and awareness of issues relevant to the role of a licensed driver and medical suitability. 

New driver applicants

The application process for hackney carriage and private hire drivers requires several tests to be met before the Authority can consider an individual "fit and proper" to be a licensed driver. New applicants are required to provide:

  • Evidence of right to work in the UK.
  • Completed application form.
  • Two recent passport size photos.
  • DVLA Group 2 medical certificates (completed within 3 months by a medical practitioner who has had sight of the applicant's medical summary).
  • Full DVLA driving licence held for at least 12 months and a time limited DVLA check code.
  • An enhanced DBS certificate for the role of taxi driver and other workforce, together with DBS Update Service details.
  • Pass local knowledge test
  • A BTEC level 2 Certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver; and
  • The licence fees.

An application for a driver's licence will only be accepted when all the documentation listed in paragraph 3.2.1 above are provided. Any person with criminal convictions, cautions, motoring offences or other conduct matters are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the Authority's guidelines on the relevance of convictions Appendix A, before deciding whether to commence the application process.

The Authority will check the National Register of Taxi Licence Revocations and Refusals to see if new driver applicants have previously been refused an application for a hackney carriage or private hire driver licence or had such a licence revoked in line with procedures detailed in Appendix B.

Applications that have been inactive for 12 months will be deemed withdrawn.

Driver renewal applications

The following are required in respect of driver renewal applications:

  • Completed application form
  • DVLA check code
  • Satisfactory DVLA Group 2 medical certificate (completed within 1 month by a medical practitioner who has had sight of the applicant's medical summary)
  • DBS Update Service details
  • Right to Work documents; and
  • Licence fee

Fast-track driver licence applications

The fast-track driver application process provides a quicker application process for drivers who had previously been licensed but for one reason or another has chosen to take a short break from the trade and allowed their licence to expire. However, this service is also available for drivers who have had their licences revoked but due to a change in circumstances wish to reapply for a licence. This would normally be where information comes to light after a revocation which may infer that the revocation would not have been made had the new information been available at the time.

A fast-track licence application largely replicates a new application with the exception that there is no need for a person to complete the training course and the knowledge test if these have previously been satisfactorily completed as part of a previous licence that was valid less than 6 months previously.

Driver criminality checks

As part of the new driver licence application process an applicant will be required to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The disclosure application will be countersigned by an authorised officer of the Authority and the Job Role will be identified as 'other workforce taxi driver' to ensure that the disclosure will include a check of the "barred lists" as well as spent and unspent convictions. In addition, all new applicants and existing drivers are required to register and maintain subscription to the DBS Update Service. This can be done at any time from the date of submission of the disclosure application up to and including 30 days from the date when the disclosure certificate is issued.

Applicants are required to produce their disclosure certificate to an authorised officer of the Authority who will consider it against the Authority's' Guidelines on Relevance of Convictions Appendix A and the information together with any other relevant information from the applicant and other agencies will be considered before the application is determined.

If a new hackney carriage or private hire driver's licence is granted then the Authority will, at 6 monthly intervals, conduct an online check utilising the DBS Update Service to see if there has been a change in status to the DBS disclosure. If a change is disclosed, then the licence holder will be required to apply for and produce to the Authority a new enhanced DBS disclosure which will be used to decide whether any further action is required of the driver's licence at that time.

If the Authority is made aware of a licensed drivers' failure to maintain subscription to the DBS Update Service it will result in the suspension or revocation of the licence.

It is noted that private hire driver licence conditions and hackney carriage drivers code of conduct require a licensed driver to notify the Authority of any conviction, fixed penalty, caution, charge, or arrest for any matter within 48 hours. The receipt of any such information may result in further enquiries with relevant agencies and action may or may not be taken against the drivers' licence.

Any information received from relevant partner agencies, including the Police and other local licensing authorities regarding criminal or unacceptable conduct will be considered during the duration of the licence and in future applications.

Criminality, motoring convictions, medical fitness and general conduct are seen as fundamental to the "fit and proper" test that must be satisfied before a person is licensed to drive hackney carriages or private hire vehicles and maintained during the licence period.

Driver medicals

As part of the Authority's assessment of the "fit and proper" test, licensed drivers are required to be medically fit for the role they are carrying out. Medical fitness is assessed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) "medical standards of fitness to drive for Group 2 licences". The medical certificate requires the medical practitioner to state whether, in their opinion, the applicant/licence holder complies with the standards and is medically fit to drive hackney carriages or private hire vehicles.

Where the medical practitioner has stipulated that they do not consider the applicant/licensed driver to be medically fit, in accordance with Group 2 standards, to drive hackney carriages or private hire vehicles, the Authority will refuse the application for a new driver, and in the case of a licensed driver either suspend or revoke the driver's licence dependant upon the details contained within the medical certification.

Where the medical practitioner has recommended that further monitoring of a condition or examination are undertaken in a certain period, it shall be open to the Authority to consider granting a licence for a shorter period commensurate with that recommendation, or to require additional medical certificates to be submitted at more frequent intervals than would otherwise be required.

In order to ensure that the Authority are informed of any significant changes to a driver's health which could impact on their driving standards, there is a condition attached to the grant of a private hire driver's licence and stated on the hackney carriage driver code of conduct that licensed drivers must notify the Authority of changes in health.

Driver training requirements

As part of the Authority's assessment of the "fit and proper" test, licensed drivers are required to have knowledge awareness and skills necessary for them to undertake the role of a licensed driver.

Prior to commencing the application process prospective applicants are required to undertake tests to provide a basic level 2 of proficiency in the English language and mathematic calculations. A lack of language proficiency could impact on a driver's ability to understand written documents such as this Policy and other guidance relating to the protection of children and vulnerable adults and applying this to identify and act on signs of exploitation. Oral proficiency will be of relevance in the identification of potential exploitation through communicating with passengers and their interaction with others. A proficiency in making calculations will assist in receiving payments and providing the correct change.

Applicants are required to sit Preston's driver knowledge test which assess a candidate's knowledge of the routes within the city area and beyond.

Applicants are also required to complete the BTEC Level 2 Certificate in "Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver" delivered by a trainer included on the Authority's approved list. For details see taxi driver licences.

Private hire driver licence conditions

Legislation allows the Authority to attach "reasonably necessary" conditions to the grant of a private hire driver's licence. The Authority has a set of standard conditions that are attached to the grant of a private hire driver's licence, and these can be found in Appendix C. The Authority will include additional, specific licence conditions on the grant of a licence where it considers it reasonably necessary to do so.

Hackney carriage byelaws

A copy of the Byelaws can be found in Appendix D. They apply to hackney carriage drivers and hackney carriage vehicle licence holders. It is an offence to fail to comply with the byelaws.

Driver code of conduct

Licensed drivers are expected to remain "fit and proper" to hold a licence during the period of their licence. The Authority expects them to remain medically fit, maintain the standards detailed in the Guidelines on Relevance of Convictions Appendix E and conduct themselves appropriately.

In order to assist licensed hackney carriage drivers, a code of conduct has been developed so that drivers have an awareness of the standards expected whilst they are working as a hackney carriage driver. A copy of these can be found in Appendix E. The standards detailed within the code of conduct are replicated as appropriate in the private hire driver licence conditions.

Dress code

3.11.1 Whilst there is no requirement for corporate branding or uniform to be worn by licensed drivers the Authority consider it important that licensed drivers wear clean, appropriate clothing, and maintain a good standard of personal hygiene whilst working as a licensed driver. A requirement to comply with the dress code is included within the private hire driver licence conditions and the hackney carriage driver code of conduct. A copy of the dress code can be found in Appendix F.

Carriage of assistance dogs

It is a legal requirement that drivers of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles permit assistance dogs to be carried in the licensed vehicle without any extra charge. Assistance dogs are highly trained and will normally sit in the footwell of the vehicle immediately adjacent to their owner. The failure of a licensed driver to carry a passenger (pre-booked passenger in the case of private hire) because the passenger is accompanied by an assistance dog is an offence.

If a licensed driver has an allergy to dogs, then the licensed driver must obtain a certificate from their medical practitioner, a copy of which should be provided to the Authority. Consideration will then be given to granting a certificate of exemption based on medical grounds.

The Authority regards the failure to carry an assistance dog as a serious matter and where sufficient evidence of the offence exists then the Authority will generally prosecute the driver and review the driver's licence.

Surrender of driver licences

The Authority will not accept the surrender of hackney carriage or private hire driver licences. The surrender of such licences negates the notification of any criminal conduct matters and allows an individual to correctly state that a licence has not been revoked or suspended in future applications.

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