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Taxi policy - Compliance and enforcement

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The Government is committed to reducing regulatory burdens and supporting compliant business growth through the development of an open and constructive relationship between regulators and those they regulate.

The Authority will try to avoid imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens through its regulatory activities. It will assess whether similar social, environmental, and economic outcomes can be achieved by less burdensome means.

The development of this part of the policy has been drafted having regard to the principles contained in the Regulators Code which came into effect in April 2014 and published by the Better Regulation Delivery Office based within the Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The code details six principles that regulators, including Preston City Council must have regard to when undertaking their duties relating to regulatory activity. These are:

  • Regulators should carry out their activities in a way that supports those they regulate to comply and grow
  • Regulators should provide simple and straightforward ways to engage with those they regulate and hear their views
  • Regulators should base their regulatory activities on risk
  • Regulators should share information about compliance and risk
  • Regulators should ensure clear information, guidance, and advice is available to help those they regulate meet their responsibilities to comply
  • Regulators should ensure that their approach to their regulatory activities is transparent

When appropriate the Authority will work with external regulators to ensure it achieves its aims and objectives through joint working.

Disciplinary Hearings

Disciplinary matters that will be considered by the Authority's Taxi and Miscellaneous Committee shall follow procedures as set out in Appendix Q (PDF) [122KB].

Penalty Points Scheme

The Authority operates a penalty points scheme whereby points may be issued by authorised officers of the Authority to licence holders who are found to be in breach of legislation, byelaws, this policy, or conditions of licence as an alternative to more formal legal proceedings. Details of the scheme are included in Appendix P (PDF) [136KB].

Complaints about Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licence Holders

The Authority investigates complaints relating to the conduct of a licence holder and sometimes non-licence holder in accordance with a procedure detailed in the taxi complaints and compliments section.

Complaints will be recorded on the Authority's database and will be subject to trend analysis on an ongoing basis in respect of individual licence holders.

There are a wide variety of actions that can arise from the investigation of complaints, such as:

  • No action
  • Verbal advice given
  • Written advice/warning issued
  • Penalty points
  • Suspension/revocation of licence
  • Simple cautions
  • Prosecutions
  • Licence review at a hearing which could result in any of the above

Where there are several complaints against a licence holder this is likely to compound concerns regarding the licence holder's suitability to remain licensed.

As part of the inspection of private hire operator premises, authorised officers will inspect the complaints record log to identify any patterns of complaints and take appropriate action where necessary.

Where appropriate, information concerning the investigation and outcome of investigations of complaints may be shared with other agencies such as the police and the National Refusals and Revocations Register (NR3).

Refusal to Grant a Licence

The legislative framework for refusal of licence applications is contained within the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Applicants will always be informed in writing of the reasons why an application has been refused and their right of appeal against the decision.

Where an applicant is refused a licence they have a right of appeal, generally to the Magistrates' Court, the only exception being the refusal to grant a hackney carriage vehicle licence which would be an appeal direct to the Crown Court.

Suspension/Revocation of Licences

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 provides provisions for suspending and revoking licences, where it is appropriate for the Authority to do so. The difference between the suspension of a licence and its revocation is that in general, a suspension of a licence is for a finite period in such cases as:

  • Suspend a driver's licence until a satisfactory medical certificate has been produced
  • Suspend a driver's licence until a particular training course has been successfully completed
  • Suspend a vehicle licence until a satisfactory certificate of insurance has been produced

A revocation, however, is a total loss of a licence and once revoked cannot be reinstated, other than through an appeal process.

Case law has defined that suspension/revocation cannot be used as a two stage process and if it has been determined to take away a licence then it must either be a suspension for a limited period or a revocation. It cannot be a suspension followed by a revocation.

Licensed vehicles shall be always kept in an efficient, safe, tidy, and clean condition. Compliance with the vehicle specifications and conditions of licence is essential and will be enforced by periodic, random vehicle inspections by the Authority. Where it is found that any vehicle is not being properly maintained a Vehicle Defect Notice will be served on the vehicle proprietor setting out the defect(s) that need to be rectified and arrangements for the vehicle to be further inspected to check compliance. This notice will be used by authorised officers where the defects are not deemed serious. Failure to comply with the requirements of the notice may result in the vehicle licence being suspended automatically.

Where public safety and comfort standards are likely to be imperilled by the defect(s) a Stop Notice shall be served on the vehicle proprietor who must take appropriate action to meet those standards. Further use of the vehicle will be suspended until the defects have been remedied. The suspension will then not be lifted until the vehicle has undergone a further test, at the proprietor's expense, and been passed as fit for use by the Authority.

Simple Cautions

A simple caution may be used as an alternative to a prosecution in order to:

  • deal quickly and simply with less serious offences
  • divert less serious offenders away from the Courts; and
  • reduce the likelihood of re-offending

To safeguard the suspected offender's interests, the following conditions should be fulfilled before a simple caution is administered: 

  • there must be evidence of the suspected offender's guilt sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction.
  • the suspected offender must admit the offence; and
  • the suspected offender must understand the significance of a simple caution and give informed consent to being cautioned

If there is insufficient evidence to consider taking a prosecution, then by implication, the criteria is not satisfied for the use of a simple caution. A simple caution should also not be used where the suspected offender does not make a clear and reliable admission of the offence. (It should be noted that there is no legal obligation for any person to accept the offer of a simple caution and no pressure should be applied to the person to accept a simple caution).

Where a person declines the offer of a simple caution, it shall be necessary to consider taking alternative enforcement action.


Where a licence holder has committed an offence the Authority will decide in respect of what action should be taken against the licence holder. The Authority will have regard to its own policy, the Regulators Code, Code for Crown Prosecutors, and its own Penalty Points Scheme. The offences listed in Appendix P (PDF) [136KB] where the maximum number of penalty points that maybe awarded is shown by n/a indicates offences that may lead to a prosecution by the Authority.

There are several factors that will be taken into consideration before any decision is made. These factors include:

  • Is there enough evidence to prosecute?
  • Is it in the public interest to prosecute?
  • How serious/potentially serious is the offence?
  • Has the person benefited from the offence?
  • Is there any relevant previous history?
  • Is the offence likely to be repeated?
  • Was the person coerced in any way?
  • Has there been any harm caused?
  • Is there a potential for impact on the wider community?
  • Is prosecution a proportionate response?

There are a limited number of circumstances where prosecutions will be instigated against none licence holders, primarily these will relate to persons working within the licensed trade but without having the relevant licence in place and include persons working with expired licences and unlicensed drivers purporting to be licensed drivers.


The principles of the rules of natural justice lead to the position that someone has the right to challenge decisions. In terms of hackney carriage and private hire licensing there is a right of appeal to the Magistrates' Court (and Crown Court) against decisions to revoke, refuse, suspend a licence and against any conditions imposed on the grant of a licence. Appeals to Magistrates' Court must be made within 21 days of receipt of the decision. In most circumstances once an appeal against the Authority's decision has been lodged a person may continue to utilise the licence until the appeal process has been finalised or withdrawn, although clearly this does not apply to new applicants who have had their application refused.

There are some exceptions to the above:

  • There is no immediate right of appeal against the Authority's decision to immediately suspend a vehicle licence under section 68 of the 1976 Act. However, if the suspension has not been lifted within a 2-month period a right of appeal is then available
  • In relation to a decision to refuse to grant a hackney carriage vehicle licence the appeal is direct to the Crown Court
  • A hackney carriage/private hire driver's licence revoked or suspended with immediate effect on the grounds of public safety, prevents the licence holder from utilising the licence, even when an appeal has been lodged
  • In most cases there is a further right of appeal from the Magistrates' Court to the Crown Court

An appeal against the imposition of penalty points may be made to the Authority's Taxi and Miscellaneous Committee. Notice of the appeal must be submitted in writing no later than 14 days of receiving the Penalty Points Notice.

Data Sharing

The Authority will share with other enforcement bodies and relevant agencies, including DBS and National Anti-Fraud Network, information supplied by applicants/licence holders or acquired while exercising the licensing functions, where it is lawful to do so.

Personal information will only be disclosed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations.

Where the Authority decide to refuse an application for the grant of a hackney carriage/private hire driver's licence or when an existing driver's licence is revoked, that information will be placed on the National Register of Taxi Licence Revocation and Refusals (NR3) in accordance with the Authority's policy relating to requests for information, disclosure of information, and use of information because of an entry on NR3, included in Appendix B (PDF) [91KB].

Referrals to the DBS

Where the City Council decides to refuse or revoke a licence because the applicant/licence holder is thought to present a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, it will refer this decision to the Disclosure and Barring Service in addition to the NR3 register detailed above. The circumstances that will warrant such action will be when it is thought that:

  • An individual has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult
  • An individual has satisfied the 'harm test'; or
  • Received a caution for a relevant offence; and
  • The person referred to has or might in the future be working in regulated activity

If the above conditions are satisfied, the DBS may consider it appropriate for the person to be added to a barred list.

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