The Director of Culture and Communities submitted an exempt report in connection an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 8/19, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed and confirmed that any inaccuracies continued within the report should have been reported to the Licensing department prior to the meeting.
The applicant, who was in attendance at the meeting, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report and understood its contents.
The Licensing Manager provided a summary of the report in relation to the applicants convictions detailed in the report and made reference to the relevant sections of the Councils Policy Guidance on Convictions, Cautions and Complaints. :-
The Committee was advised that the Applicant appeared before Members due to Offence 1) - Common Assault listed in the report. The Applicant was interviewed by a Licensing enforcement officer on 22 January 2019 in relation to this incident.
Offence 1) The applicant stated that this incident occurred when separating his children after a play fight began to get out of control on 10 April 2016. The applicant used his arm to separate the children and in the course of doing so caused a red mark on his son's leg. After the mark had become apparent during school time, it was reported to social worker at the child's school as well as the police. The red mark was not judged to be serious by medical staff at James Cook University Hospital.
The Applicant stated that he was interviewed by the Police on 25 April 2016 and had accepted his explanation that the injury had been accidental and had signed a form to accept responsibility for the incident and accepted a warning. The applicant stated that Social Services had not been involved since their last involvement.
The Applicant had not declared the warning as part of his application as he was not aware the document he signed was a caution.
Further enquiries made by Licensing Staff found no record of the Applicant on the Council's LADO files, however information provided by Cleveland Police showed that the Applicant's explanation for the injury was from a belt.
The Applicant was re-interviewed on 13 February 2019 by a Licensing Officer in which he admitted that the injury had been caused by his belt but that this had been unintentional. The Applicant stated he had picked up his trousers which had been hanging on his bed and had swung them at the children to separate them and that his son had been caught by the belt.
The Applicant stated that it was not his intention to deliberately mislead Officers during his first interview but did so as he had been embarrassed and ashamed and wanted to put the whole incident behind him.
At this point in the meeting the Applicant was invited to present his case and proceeded to address the Committee providing his version of events. He also responded to questions from Members, the Council's Legal representative and the Licensing Manager.
It was confirmed there were no further questions and the driver, along with Licensing Officers, withdrew from the meeting whilst the Committee considered the application.
At this stage in the meeting the Applicant and the Licensing Manager returned to the meeting.
ORDERED: Under Section 51 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 ("the Act") the Licensing Committee shall not grant a licence to drive a private hire vehicle unless it is satisfied the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
The Committee considered the application on its merits, it considered the report, information and representations made to the Committee. It considered the Councils policy on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct ("the Policy").
The Committee decided to grant the Applicant a licence to drive private hire vehicles under Section 51 of the Act because it was satisfied the Applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence. The Chair advised the applicant the licence entailed a responsibility to be a Fit and Proper person when driving a taxi in Middlesbrough.
The reasons for the decision were as follows:
The Committee noted the Applicant had received a caution for common assault on the 25 April 2016 and failed to declare the caution on his application.
The Committee noted the Applicants explanation for the caution and that he was ashamed and very remorseful of his actions which is why the Applicant did not give the full details to the licensing officer in his first interview.
The Committee noted that the Applicant did not realise he had received a caution and thought it was a warning and therefore did not put it on his Application. The Applicant explained it was a mistake and was not intentionally done to mislead the Council.
The Committee considered the Applicants reasons to be believable and did not consider he intentionally lied on his application form to mislead the Council.
The Committee noted the Policy in relation to an offence of assault requires a conviction free period of at least three years from the date of conviction or completion of the sentence imposed. It therefore decided to depart from the policy on this occasion because the incident appeared to be a one off and out of character and there was only approximately one month left before the three year incident free period expires.