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 at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday of picking up passengers illegally, known as blagging.
Mizanur Rahman of Bridgeford Court, Oldbrook attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in May 2016. He was fined £180 for plying for hire and £280 for having invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £1000, with a victim surcharge of £30.
Maheswaran Ratnam of Luton attended court and pleaded not guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in December 2015. At the conclusion of the trial he was found guilty and fined £120 for plying for hire and £180 for having invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £4311.50, 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 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.
Both vehicles were displaying private hire door signs for Private Hire Operator Speedline and were 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 the vehicle’s insurance policy.
When enforcing taxi legislation, the Council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.
“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,” said Cllr Catriona Morris, chair of the Regulatory Committee.
“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”.