New standards for Taxi Drivers in Rotherham

Following the publication of the Jay and Casey reports into CSE in Rotherham where the use of taxi’s to ferry young girls from Rotherham to other parts of the country was highlighted Commissioner Mary Ney oversaw the introduction of new rules and regulations for operators and vehicles. (These apply to Private Hire Vehicles not the familiar TX4 ‘London  Taxi/Black Cab’)  All PHV’s in Rotherham must be painted white.

http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/documents/s100485/Rotherham%20MBC%20Taxi%20and%20HC%20Policy%202906.pdf

The changes cover a broad range of issues and include:

  • Introduction of a ‘fit and proper’person test which will include non-conviction and any other relevant information
  • Enhanced knowledge test, and assessment of English Language and Maths ability
  • Taxi cameras and audio recordings in all licensed vehicles
  • ID badges clearly on display showing the driver’s photograph and licence details
  • Child and adult safeguarding awareness training for all drivers and operators
  • A nationally recognised qualification that includes customer care, meeting the needs of people with disabilities, road safety, the handling of emergencies and how to defuse difficult situations and manage conflict
  • A specific Code of Conduct for working with vulnerable passengers
  • Documentary evidence to confirm drivers may legally work in the UK
  • Minimum emission standards for vehicles, plus all taxis must be less than 10-years-old (exceptions for wheelchair accessible vehicles and vehicles in exceptional condition)
  • No children in the front seat of vehicles (with certain exceptions)
  • Vehicles which clearly indicate they are licensed including clear signage
  • A fire extinguisher in every vehicle
  • Stricter regulations in relation to tyres, including that they must be new rather than part-worn, fitted by a reputable vehicle maintenance company, with at least a 2.0mm tread depth
  • No taxi firms using vehicles or drivers licensed by other councils (all drivers and vehicles working for Rotherham taxi firms will meet the new standards)
  • Most Rotherham licensed taxis will need to have a camera installed by 6th July, 2016, or be able to demonstrate they are in the process of arranging for a camera to be fitted.*
  • *Where a taxi is less than five-years-old and the 2016 renewal date falls after this date, a camera will need to be installed when the driver next submits his or her vehicle renewal application. Vehicles over nine-years-old will also be exempt but will not have their licenses renewed due to age limit requirements on vehicles.
  • The systems are designed to protect customers and drivers. Whilst the cameras must be activated each time there is a passenger in the vehicle, the audio recording can be activated by either the driver or the passenger at any time. The Council requires drivers to do this whenever they are involved in any kind of dispute with a passenger and whenever an unaccompanied child or vulnerable adult is being carried in the vehicle. Drivers will not be able to access the footage or audio and Rotherham Council will only download these in certain circumstances, such as if there is a complaint or incident involving a taxi, or if the Council wants to check that the system is being used properly.
    Video recording must be active at all times. Audio recording must be active in any of the following circumstances: An unaccompanied child (i.e. under 18) or vulnerable adult is being carried in the vehicle, or between the hours of 2200hrs and 0600hrs.

    A small indicator light will show when audio is being recorded, and stickers and notices will give people information about the systems and how they are used. Customers can also ask the driver how the system operates and where the audio activation buttons are situated.

    If you feel your driver is not abiding by the new rules you can report your concern or make a complaint: http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/taxi

  • You will probably agree the new standards are welcome and will help to improve the reputation of Rotherham taxi drivers however there is a fly in the ointment: 40 Rotherham  taxi drivers lost their taxi licences prior to the new standards being introduced and quite a few of them went to Rossendale in Lancashire and applied for a taxi licence  there. This means some taxis which are being driven and used in the Rotherham borough do not meet the new standards necessary to protect passengers and drivers.
  • What should you do? If you need a private hire taxi insist the driver is registered with RMBC, this will guarantee the driver and the vehicle complies with the new standards.

 

 

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8 Responses to New standards for Taxi Drivers in Rotherham

  1. Of course, what a magnificent website and enlightening posts, I will bookmark your site.All the Best!

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  2. miss f sales says:

    I totally understand and agree that legislation is well needed to protect vulnerable people who use phv in Rotherham but unless it is nationwide it’s clear to me that rmbc have rushed this though with very little thought and have left loop holes wich will be exploited I think rmbc cllrs need to rethink this scheme totally any trainee lawyer would have spotted the mistake s we pay on average 12k a year for rmbc cllrs I am starting to wonder why

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    • Watchman says:

      The idea for enhanced standards for taxi drivers and their vehicles was originated by Commissioner Mary Ney. She and RMBC councillors were aware that unscrupulous drivers might go outside the borough to register elsewhere but the important point is that the people of Rotherham have the choice to use registered drivers and with the knowledge the vehicles also meets current standards.
      The present scheme is 100% better than when people like Judy Dalton were supposedly in charge of taxi licensing.

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  3. miss f sales says:

    The point I was trying to make is if a Rotherham taxi business registered at Doncaster or Sheffield would they still need video and audio if they wish to work within Rotherham if they can then the scheme may not necessarily be that effective as I think some drivers may consider this option to avoid paying out for equipment

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    • Watchman says:

      You are correct in your analysis: If a driver registers in another town and works in Rotherham there is no legal requirement for him to obtain the necessary qualifications nor to fit CCTV in his vehicle.
      That is why I stressed anyone booking a PHV should insist the driver is registered with RMBC, it is the only way to put the unscrupulous drivers out of business.

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  4. miss f sales says:

    So can driver s register in say Sheffield or Doncaster but still work in Rotherham or is this a national thing that will improve the service of private hire firm’s and also what’s the difference between a taxi that’s 7 years old or 3 year s old it’s the driver who is the person that needs monitoring is ther a cost to the tax payers ie grants or such like for the equipment that needs fitting it’s my opinion they can fit video but in reality how good is the policeing and inforcement

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    • Watchman says:

      Yes, a PHV driver can register in Sheffield and work in Rotherham.
      Private Hire Vehicles undergo a more stringent roadworthiness test than a privately owned vehicle.
      PHV owners pay for the CCTV equipment from their own pockets and RMBC undertake ‘mystery shopper’ journeys in PHV’s in Rotherham. If there is an occasion when a misdemeanour or inappropriate behaviour occurs the in-car video and audio recordings can be used against the driver if a subsequent licence hearing takes place.

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  5. David Cawkwell. says:

    It is good news for everyone that taxi drivers and their vehicles in Rotherham are subject to improved standards however RMBC will not disclose the reasons for suspending/revoking a driver’s or operator’s licence. If a taxi driver is being investigated by one of the law enforcement agencies for criminality I can understand why the details should remain confidential.
    There are no valid reasons IMV why the removal of a taxi licence and the reasons for it should be kept hidden from the public.

    Not all PHV drivers in Rotherham are bad and most of them accepted the new regulations as a necessary safeguard for them and their passengers.

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