The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 35/15, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The Chair explained that as the complaint received on 14 May 2015 was of a sensitive nature, and the witness was vulnerable, the witness would be invited into the meeting without the driver being present. The witness entered the room and the Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed.
The Chair invited the witness to present her case. The witness confirmed the details of her statement and responded to questions from Members of the Committee and the Principal Licensing Officer.
It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the witness subsequently withdrew from the meeting.
The driver was invited into the room.
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 Chair stated that a witness statement in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report had been received. A copy of the statement was circulated to all Members of the Committee. The Principal Licensing Officer confirmed that the driver had also been given a copy of the statement prior to the meeting.
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 and a complaint received on 14 May 2015 which related to an incident that occurred on 29 April 2015.
It was noted that the driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 24 November 2014 following his appearance before the Committee. Members had considered the conviction detailed at 1) in the report and on that occasion, the application was approved.
The driver now appeared before Members in relation to an incident that occurred on 29 April 2015. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 24 September 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council were unaware, confirmed his explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report, and offered an explanation in relation to the incident that had occurred on 29 April 2015.
The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer. The Council's Legal Officer put to the driver the Witnesss representations to the Committee that may not have been included in her statement for the driver to give his response or comments to the Committee. The driver was given the opportunity to respond to the representations.
It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council's Legal Services and Members' Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the application.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee's decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 35/15, be Revoked with immediate effect as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence for the following reasons:
The Committee considered the report, appendices and representations from the Applicant and the Complainant.
The Committee found the complainant to be credible and she was open and honest about her recollection of the incident. The Committee found the Applicants version of events to be inconsistent and in parts to contradict his previous statements.
The Applicant admitted getting into the back of his taxi with a vulnerable passenger for a long period of time whilst outside of her home. This in itself is unacceptable behaviour of a taxi driver and the Applicant failed to recognised that his actions were inappropriate.
On balance the Committee also believed the Applicant inappropriately touched the passenger who was in a very vulnerable state.
In relation to the sexual assault in 2008 the Committee received information from the police by the victim that contradicted the Applicants version of events and showed that the victim did not give consent to sexual touching and this was supported by the Applicant accepting a caution for the offence.
For these reasons the Committee did not consider the driver to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licence.
The Committee decided to revoke the Applicants Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licence with immediate effect under Section 61(2B) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 as the Committee considered that potential passengers were at risk if driven by the Applicant and that he was likely to take advantage of his position of trust in respect of vulnerable passengers in view of the above incidents.
The applicant was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.