'10 year bans for cabbies convicted of violence too long', most Wakefield taxi drivers say

Taxi drivers in Wakefield were consulted on a range of new measures councils across West Yorkshire want to introduce, but some of their responses differed from cabbies in other areas.
Taxi drivers in Wakefield were consulted on a range of new measures councils across West Yorkshire want to introduce, but some of their responses differed from cabbies in other areas.

Taxi drivers in Wakefield have claimed automatic 10 year bans for cabbies convicted for a violent offence are too harsh.

The local group representing drivers likened the proposed idea to giving sweet-stealing children the same punishments as "career criminals".

The Association said each case should be judged on its own merits and that there should be room for rehabilitation.

The Association said each case should be judged on its own merits and that there should be room for rehabilitation.

Councils in Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, York and Wakefield are considering applying a blanket set of rules to the taxi industry in a bid to avoid big policy differences between local areas.

All five authorities want to impose automatic bans on drivers convicted of a list of offences.

These would include a decade-long licence suspension for any cabbie convicted of a violent crime, and seven years for dishonesty, discrimination and weapon related offences.

However, a majority of those surveyed in Wakefield about the plans said they believed all of those punishments would be too long.

Forty-four of the 50 people who responded to the public consultations were either licensed drivers, a private hire operator or a proprietor. The remaining six were all members of the public.

On the issue of violent offences, 38 of those surveyed said 10 years was too big a punishment.

The Wakefield Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Association called for a more flexible approach to bans, and said each case should be judged on its merits.

In a letter to the council, the union's consultant Christopher Woodrow said: "Without hesitation, the association support the council in their endeavours to set appropriate standards to regulate all aspects of (trade).

"It is only by setting and maintaining such standards that they will be properly recognised by being the only safe and reliable demand responsive transport service that operates door-to-door, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"In the circumstances, a person as a juvenile convicted of stealing sweets is not going to be treated the same as a career criminal who has many convictions for for shoplifting or or the same as a dwelling house burglar or those involved in the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary, despite all being guilty of offences of dishonesty."

The association has put forward its own counter-proposal, which it says would give councils more flexibility to give punishments befitting of the crime, and offers convicted drivers the chance for rehabilitation.

The council responded to the letter in detail, saying that the proposals required each case to be "treated on its own merits".

The survey did indicate however, that drivers and the public supported indefinite bans for those convicted of exploitation, sexual offences and causing death or serious injury.

A report going before Wakefield councillors next week has indicated the proposed bans should be adopted in full, and noted that a number of the responses from people in the district were "at odds with wider regional opinion".

It added that West Yorkshire Police's child sexual exploitation team were in support of the plans, as well as the NHS' safeguarding children unit.

Local Democracy Reporting Service