Another cab driver has been prosecuted for unlawfully plying for hire – known as blagging - following a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.
Jonson Olukeye Okuribido, of Redbourne Court, Stony Stratford appeared in court yesterday and admitted to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.
He was fined £225 in total and ordered to pay £845 in costs with a £20 victim surcharge. He also received 6 DVLA penalty points for the no insurance offence.
Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – and if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking it also invalidates their car insurance.
The court heard how on the 15 August 2015, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the driver on a journey which had not been pre-booked by the hirer from one location to another in Milton Keynes. As the officers got into the vehicle Mr Okuribido attempted to make the booking on their behalf.
At the completion of the journey taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by the officers showed that the driver did not have an allocated legitimate collection from the location he was caught plying from. In addition, a driver cannot make the booking with the Operator on behalf of the passenger.
The vehicle involved was displaying private hire door signage for Private Hire Operator Speedline.
Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police have on-going concerns over the public’s use of Private Hire vehicles (also known as minicabs) that have not been booked in advance. Private Hire vehicle drivers are only allowed to pick up people who have pre-booked, unlike Hackney Carriages which are allowed to pick up fares on the street. In case of an accident, neither the driver nor the passenger would be covered by insurance.
When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.
“This case, along with the others we have prosecuted recently, will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law,” said Neil Allen, Head of Regulatory Services at Milton Keynes Council.
“Case law is clear and drivers are not permitted to make bookings on behalf of customers.
“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a pre-arranged booking for their own safety.”