Sunday Mirror

CLOSE THE CRIM­I­NAL CAB­BIES LOOP­HOLE Plea af­ter 18-month taxi probe makes NO changes

- BY GERAL­DINE McK­ELVIE In­ves­ti­ga­tions Ed­i­tor Crime · Society · Discrimination · Human Rights · England · Department for Transport · United Kingdom Department for Transport

CALLS are grow­ing to close a le­gal loop­hole which al­lows dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals to be handed li­cences as cab­bies.

An 18-month govern­ment re­view of the taxi trade promised sweep­ing re­form but ended with­out rec­om­mend­ing a sin­gle law change.

This means coun­cils can con­tinue to grant li­cences to sex of­fend­ers, drug deal­ers and vi­o­lent crim­i­nals with­out no­ti­fy­ing the pub­lic of their de­ci­sions.

Evil Christo­pher Halliwell was granted a mini­cab li­cence by Swin­don Coun­cil in 2000 de­spite hav­ing a crim­i­nal record and serv­ing jail time for bur­glary.

He is now serv­ing two life sen­tences for mur­der­ing of­fice worker Sian O’Cal­laghan, 22, who he picked up in his taxi, and 20-year-old Becky God­den.

Call­ing for new laws to ap­ply to the whole coun­try, Sian’s mum Elaine Pick­ford said: “Get­ting into a car with a com­plete stranger is one of the most vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions you can be in.

“If we don’t have na­tional reg­u­la­tions en­shrined in law, there will al­ways be peo­ple who will use this to their ad­van­tage.”

Men with con­vic­tions for of­fences in­volv­ing sex, drugs or vi­o­lence are among at least 865 crim­i­nals who are cur­rently al­lowed to drive and op­er­ate taxis in Eng­land.

Data from the Suzy Lam­plugh Trust also showed one driver was granted a li­cence de­spite 36 con­vic­tions for crimes in­clud­ing ABH, theft and driv­ing while banned.

Taxi driv­ers have also been widely im­pli­cated in groom­ing scan­dals plagu­ing towns such as Rother­ham, Telford and Rochdale.

James But­ton, pres­i­dent of the In­sti­tute of Li­cens­ing, has helped de­vise a set of guide­lines he wants the Govern­ment to make law.

The body rec­om­mends life­time bans for those guilty of crimes re­sult­ing in death, such as murder and man­slaugh­ter, sex of­fences or ex­ploita­tion. It adds that those with con­vic­tions for vi­o­lence or drugs should not get a li­cence for at least 10 years af­ter their sen­tence ends.

Mr But­ton said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties should be al­lowed to de­vi­ate from these rules only in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances and they should be legally obliged to make these de­ci­sions pub­lic.

He said: “There is no statu­tory pro­hi­bi­tion on any­one be­ing granted a li­cence.

“In most au­thor­i­ties, when some­one has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions which fall out­side that coun­cil’s pol­icy, the de­ci­sion is made by coun­cil­lors. They can be swayed by sob sto­ries.

“It has al­ways sur­prised me why there is ac­cep­tance of a level of crim­i­nal­ity among a sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity of the taxi trade.”

Cather­ine Raven­scroft, a bar­ris­ter spe­cial­is­ing in li­cens­ing with St Philip’s Cham­bers in Birm­ing­ham, said of­fend­ers who’d had a li­cence re­fused or re­voked in one area were some­times able to ob­tain one in a neigh­bour­ing town.

She said: “Li­cens­ing au­thor­i­ties don’t nec­es­sar­ily know you have ap­plied to an­other lo­cal au­thor­ity and there is no re­quire­ment for the ap­pli­cant to dis­close that.”

Saskia Gar­ner of the Suzy Lam­plugh Trust said: “We are very dis­ap­pointed there are not more moves to­wards leg­is­la­tion.

“Un­less there is clear guid­ance which is en­force­able by law, there will al­ways be li­cens­ing au­thor­i­ties which don’t fol­low it.”

The De­part­ment for Trans­port said most driv­ers pro­vided a safe ser­vice but ad­mit­ted the pub­lic needed pro­tec­tion af­ter “ap­palling in­ci­dents”.

A spokesman said: “We ex­pect au­thor­i­ties to en­force rig­or­ous stan­dards and won’t hes­i­tate to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion if they don’t.”

Num­ber of con­victed crim­i­nals cur­rently al­lowed to drive cabs

 ??  ?? Sian, 22, was killed by mini-cab driver
Sian, 22, was killed by mini-cab driver
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Halliwell had record but still got li­cence
Halliwell had record but still got li­cence
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

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