Enforcement officers took action in 2019 for offences including driving without insurance, charging too much for fares and plying for hire. Tony McDonough reports
More than 1,400 taxi and private hire drivers in Liverpool fell foul of the city’s licensing enforcement team in 2019, new figures show.
Enforcement officers took action for offences including driving without insurance, charging too much for fares and plying for hire. Not all drivers were from Liverpool. Some were from Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral and others as far afield as Manchester, Rossendale and Wolverhampton.
Officers prosecuted 56 drivers private hire drivers for playing for hire, which is when they agree to take passengers who have not booked the journey in advance. They issued a further 279 written warnings to drivers who had been found to have defective tyres or other parts or who were not displaying their badge or taxi plate.
Working with the city’s taxi trade, officers also issued 863 fines – the majority of these to private motorists who had illegally parked on the city’s taxi ranks. This is an ongoing concern for Liverpool’s taxi drivers.
Throughout the year, the team also took part in Operation Topaz, which aims to identify cabbies flouting the rules during the city’s match days.
Undercover licensing officers patrol popular taxi spots outside the football grounds, often posing as football fans looking for a ride home. In one recent case, private hire driver Tariq Ahmed, who is licensed with Sefton Council, was caught by officers following the Liverpool vs Napoli match in December. Ahmed, of Rodney Street, Birkenhead, was seen agreeing to carry three fans who had not pre-booked the journey. Ahmed admitted plying for hire and driving without insurance when facing the city’s magistrates. He was ordered to £487 in fines and costs and given six penalty points.
Operation Topaz and other enforcement initiatives will continue throughout this year. Chair of Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Christine Banks said: “The licensing enforcement team has been extremely active during the past year.
“Team members are out at all times of the day and night ensuring that taxi and private hire drivers are playing by the rules in the interests of the safety and security of members of the public.
“Residents and visitors to our city have the right to travel safe in the knowledge that they are not being ripped off or driven illegally. Over the past year, we have introduced many new initiatives to make travelling by taxi even easier. These have included random drug testing for drivers, the introduction of a new knowledge test for drivers and giving passengers the ability to pay by card in Hackney Cabs.”