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New Law Could See Fake Taxi Drivers Prey On Women

PCC Martyn Underhill

7:12am 15th October 2014

Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner is warning a proposed change in the law could see fake taxi drivers picking up vulnerable woman.

Martyn Underhill has written to West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin to highlight his concerns about the Deregulation Bill.

The new legislation would allow anyone to drive a taxi when it's off duty.

PCC Martyn Underhill said: "I am pleased that Oliver Letwin has acknowledged my concerns and that the government is looking again at the cause which would enable people who don't hold a private hire licence to drive a licensed vehicle when it's off duty. This could increase the number of unlicensed drivers pretending to be legitimate. People need to be sure that when they get into a marked private hire vehicle they know it's driven by a licensed operator, otherwise there is a great risk in people being raped and sexually assaulted after a night out."

The Commissioner has joined forces with a cross party group of PCCs led by Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, to lobby the Government to remove a series of measures from the Deregulation Bill. Their concerns are backed by licensing officials, the police, the taxi trade and organisations that work with victims of rape and sexual assault. The PCCs are calling on the government to ensure that people can "Be Sure, Be Safe" when getting into a private hire cab.

Currently, only licensed private hire drivers can get behind the wheel of a marked private hire vehicle; drivers have to be regularly relicensed and there are restrictions on vehicles operating across local authority boundaries. But under the Deregulation Bill, these limited safeguards are to be swept away, opening up the prospect of a private hire free for all, with no guarantees that the driver of a vehicle are who they say they are.

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