Drug testing of Liverpool cabbies to start before Christmas

Liverpool City Council, which currently licenses over 4,300 taxi and private hire drivers, has hired AlphaBiolabs to carry out the random tests. Tony McDonough reports

Taxi, cab, cabbie, Hackney
Liverpool is to begin random drug testing of taxi drivers


Taxi and private hire drivers in Liverpool are to be subject to random drug tests in a new policy that will be implemented before Christmas.

Liverpool City Council, which currently licenses over 4,300 taxi and private hire drivers, said a small minority use illegal drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, and councillors on the city’s licensing committee have now approved the monthly testing regime.

Between May 2018 and May 2019, a total of 114 licensed drivers were arrested on suspicion of drug-driving. A consultation process conducted by the council during September and October found overwhelming support for the introduction of random drug testing.

Now the city council has hired Warrington-based private laboratory AlphaBiolabs, to conduct the tests. The company carries out, drug, alcohol and DNA testing for a number of commercial clients. It carried out DNA tests for ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show until it was taken off air earlier this year.

The council said it views drug use as completely incompatible with being fit and proper persons to be entrusted with the safe carriage of the general public, as well as the dangers presented to other road users.

The new policy will also involve intelligence-led testing, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect the misuse of drugs. Drivers with a drug-related conviction or caution who apply for a new licence or a renewal may also be required to undergo a test.

David Thomas, managing director of AlphaBiolabs, said: “We have been working with Liverpool City Council for some time, providing drug and alcohol testing for Children’s Services. We are now thrilled to be helping the council with this random testing which will help keep drivers safe as well as members of the public.”

David Thomas, managing director of AlphaBiolabs


AlphaBiolabs will take urine samples from drivers and analyse them at its accredited laboratory. The company has developed lab techniques to provide a rapid, accurate historical record of drug use. Urine, oral fluid and hair analysis can detect illegal drugs that have been consumed from 72 hours up to 28 days previously.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing is a burgeoning part of AlphaBiolabs’ business. The company already carries out testing across industries such as aviation, construction, logistics and manufacturing.

Mr Thomas added: “Random drug testing is one of the best ways to ensure that employees are working in a safe environment.  Many studies show that it is effective in reducing accidents and incidents, ill-health, absenteeism and litigation.”

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