Penalty Point Scheme Consultation

Closes 24 Jun 2018

Opened 14 May 2018

Overview

The Licensing and Public Protection Committee of the City Council has approved in principle the introduction of a penalty point scheme for drivers and vehicle proprietors of Hackney Carriage (taxi) and Private Hire vehicles.

During on-going road side compliance checks Licensing Enforcement continues to identify high levels of non-compliance regarding required signage and safety issues with licensed vehicles.

A summary of vehicle inspections carried out since April 2017 shows that on initial inspection only approximately 30% of private hire vehicles and 70% of Hackney Carriage vehicles are fully compliant with the conditions of licence during stop check exercises

However apart from the inconvenience of re-presenting the vehicle for further inspection in a compliant state, there is no other incentive for drivers/proprietors to maintain the vehicle such that it complies with the conditions set by this Committee.

The process of refusing, suspending or revoking a licence can take time and allows the licensee to appeal the matter to the Magistrates’ Court. If an appeal is lodged then, in most cases, the suspension/revocation is held in abeyance until the appeal has been determined. 

A penalty points system would clearly show the principals of proportionality and fairness of any decisions made and would also provide good evidence of this fact in any subsequent appeal to the Magistrates Court.

The primary objective of the penalty point scheme is to improve the levels of compliance and help improve standards, safety and ultimately the protection of the travelling public.  It is intended to work in conjunction with other enforcement options and provides a formalised stepped enforcement plan.  It does not prejudice the Council's ability to take other actions.

The proposed scheme would record a wide range of breaches, some of which in themselves may not be individually serious, but if added together,  demonstrate a clear pattern of poor standards or behaviour that collectively warrant some type of action, such as the suspension or revocation of a licence.  

Other matters identified may significantly impact on the safety of a vehicle and indicate the driver is failing to regularly inspect or maintain a vehicle.

As Licensing Authority the Council need to reinforce compliance with the conditions attached to the licences it issues and to promote the high standards expected of licence holders.  We want residents and visitors to the City to feel safe when they use a hackney carriages or private hire vehicles so it is crucial that standards of licensed drivers and vehicles are consistently high.

The proposed penalty point scheme is intended as a means of recording repeated non-compliance, or activity that is other than in accordance with the standards expected of licensed hackney carriage and private hire drivers

It is evident that if we wish to improve standards of safety and services provided by licence holders we need to ensure such individuals are made aware they will be held accountable for all matters relevant to their licences and the test as to whether they are and continue to be a “fit and proper person” to hold the licence granted to them.

A penalty points system has a number of benefits:

  • penalty points system is seen as a proportionate response in respect of minor infractions;
  • because the points are acquired before any major sanctions such as the suspension, or revocation of a license are taken the licensee is clearly able to see the points tally accumulated and thereby given fair warning they could face a possible sanction;
  • as a licensee accumulates points, the nearer they get to the set points total resulting in a potential sanction they have a clear incentive and deterrent not to commit any further breaches;

The scheme proposed follows the examples of several other licensing authorities who currently deal with such matters, by means of a penalty points system.  Attached is an initial draft of a point scheme to demonstrate the types of issues regularly identified in relation to licensed vehicles. 

The first table in the proposed scheme focuses on those matters identified on stop check exercises with the second table being a list of other potential additions to the scheme that occur on a regular basis, but are not identified on a stop check exercise.

Where a licensee accumulates more than 12 penalty points in any 12 month period, the matter will be referred to a Licensing Sub-committee to decide whether the driver is a fit and proper person. The Sub-committee may then suspend or revoke a licence, or issue a warning to the Licensee, depending upon the circumstances of each individual case.

Penalty Points will remain current for 12 months from the date the penalty points were issued. Points issued to either the proprietor of a vehicle or a driver will be confirmed in writing normally within 10 working days from the discovery of the contravention.

Why We Are Consulting

The Licensing and Public Protection Committee of the City Council has approved in principle the introduction of a penalty point scheme for drivers and vehicle proprietors of Hackney Carriage (taxi) and Private Hire vehicles. The primary objective of the penalty point scheme is to improve the levels of compliance and help improve standards, safety and ultimately the protection of the travelling public.

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