The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 48/12, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The driver, who was in attendance at the meeting, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.
The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.
The driver was first licensed with the Council in July 2012. He was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 21 November 2012 when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1).
The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.
The driver addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members and the Principal Licensing Officer.
It was confirmed that there were no questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Councils Legal Services and Members Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 48/12, be revoked as the Committee did not consider him to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence for the following reasons:-
1. The driver appeared before Members following notification from Cleveland Police that he had accepted a caution on 5 November 2012 for an offence of theft.
2. The Councils policy guidance in relation to dishonesty offences highlighted the need for drivers to act honestly if a passenger left property behind in a taxi.
3. The Committee (as the body licensing taxi drivers in Middlesbrough) had different responsibilities from the Police and it was, therefore, important for the Committee to enquire into the circumstances of any offence before reaching a decision.
4. The Committee particularly noted the circumstances of this offence. These were that a passenger had left his wallet behind when he had travelled in the driver's taxi. The next passenger had found the wallet and handed it to the driver, believing the driver would return it to the owner or hand it in to the Police. Instead, the driver had taken the opportunity to steal £80 from the wallet and had then discarded it. When the owner of the wallet reported losing it to the Police, the taxi operator contacted the driver to check if he had the wallet. The driver subsequently admitted theft to the police and was cautioned.
5. The theft involved the driver abusing the position of trust he held with two of his passengers (the passenger who had lost the wallet and the passenger who had acted honestly in handing the wallet to the driver).
6. Not only had the driver acted dishonestly, the victim of the theft was his passenger, and he had entirely disregarded the standards of integrity expected of him as a licensed driver. In the Committee's view, stealing his passenger's money had been inexcusable. In context, this was serious dishonesty and the appropriate action was to revoke the driver's licence.
The driver was reminded of his right to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.