As a result of a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police, two private hire cab drivers were convicted of picking up passengers illegally (a practice known as blagging), last week.
Tariq Aziz of Myrtle Bank, Stacey Bushes attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in March 2017. He was fined £183 for plying for hire and £275 for having invalid motor insurance. He was also given six DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £400, with a victim surcharge of £30.
Imran Tahir, from Bedford did not attend court and was proven in absence for plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in December 2016. He was fined £444 for plying for hire and £660 for invalid insurance. He was also given six DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £865, with a victim surcharge of £66.
The court heard how officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes. At the completion of these journeys taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by council officers showed that the vehicles had not actually been officially pre-booked for these journeys.
The vehicles involved were displaying door signs for Private Hire Operators Speedline and Skyline, and were licensed as private hire vehicles 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) and out of district hackney carriages that have not been booked in advance. When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.
Councillor Catriona Morris, chair of the Regulatory Committee, said: “These cases 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.
“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a pre-arranged booking for their own safety.
“These operations by Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”