Driver caught picking up illegal fare in Milton Keynes

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A private hire cab driver has been convicted at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court of picking up passengers illegally, which is known as blagging.

Mohammad Yazeer Lebbe, of Akerlea Close, Netherfield, Milton Keynes attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance. The charges were the result of a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.

Lebbe was fined £130 for plying for hire and £130 for the invalid motor insurance. He was also given six DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £250, with a victim surcharge of £30.

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 weekend September 3 and 4, 2016 enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the driver on a journey which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

At the completion of this journey taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting.

Investigations by council officers showed that the driver had not actually been officially booked for this journey.

The vehicle involved was displaying private hire door signs for Private Hire Operator Speedline and was licensed by South Northants Council.

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.

Councillor Catriona Morris, chair of the Regulatory Committee, said: “Licensed drivers are in a position of trust and members of the public expect that anyone driving a licensed vehicle has the correct licence and insurance to do so.

“Drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in a private hire vehicle. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.

“These operations by Milton Keynes Council will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”