As more drivers opt for cabbing to make ends meet after losing a job – some councils are setting late-night traps near pubs and clubs to catch those without licences and the right insurance.
One council cracking down on cabbies is Watford where several cases are thought to be under consideration for prosecution after council officers teamed up with undercover cops to catch unlicensed operators.
Iqbal Ahmed, from Kensington Avenue, Watford, was fined £500 by Watford magistrates after admitting collecting the police from the roadside. He was parked in a lay-by when they asked him to take them to a nearby road. Ahmed agreed and clocked the trip on his meter. In court, he was fined £150 for an offence of plying for trade and £200 for driving without proper taxi insurance. Magistrates ordered him to pay £150 costs awarded to Watford Council.
10% of minicab drivers illegally picked up fares
Councillor Jan Brown, chairman of Watford Council’s licensing committee, said: “This operation was undertaken following requests from the Hackney Carriage trade to deter illegal drivers.
“Members of the public should be careful not to use unlicensed vehicles to travel home after a night out in Watford as the drivers may not be licensed or checked for having a criminal record. Drivers who illegally ply for hire will not usually be covered by insurance for the journey.”
Other councils that have recently prosecuted taxi drivers are Preston and Walsall. In Preston, one in 10 drivers were found illegally plying for hire. As a private hire or minicab drivers need insurance to operate to protect both driver and passengers.
Firms that own and run several cars can opt for taxi or minicab fleet cover: most of these policies are available to fleets of five or more vehicles, although some will cover just two cars.