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Minibuses can be driven by convicted criminals, claims taxi driver
A TAXI driver in Middlesbrough is campaigning for tougher checks on minibus drivers – claiming that people with criminal convictions are being allowed to drive them.
Under the current system, all drivers of both Hackney and private hire cabs have to undergo rigorous criminal records checks before they are granted licences by the council.
But minibus drivers – known as “passenger carrying vehicles” drivers – do not have to go through the same checks unless they are driving groups classed as vulnerable.
Taxi driver Rasub Afsal, who drives in Middlesbrough, has been campaigning for the law to be changed to ensure minibus drivers go through the same checks as taxi drivers.
He said people were at risk because of a loophole in the law – and said he knew “many” drivers who were convicted at court who made the switch to driving minibuses to avoid the criminal checks.
Mr Afsal, a self-employed taxi driver, said: “This loophole is not good. It is putting the public at risk and something needs to be done about it.”
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald was asked to get involved by Mr Afsal and wrote a letter to the Department for Transport highlighting his concerns. He has pledged to write again to the new under secretary for transport.
He said: “Whilst Mr Rasub Afsal has raised an important issue, his concerns were not shared by the then transport minister, Norman Baker.
“The minister ruled out any immediate prospect of a change in the regulations on the grounds that there was very little risk to the public. Amongst other things, all drivers do have to be CRB checked when driving vulnerable groups where the risk is obvious.
“I have met with Mr Afsal and said in my letter to Norman Baker that I can see the attraction of having a consistent set of regulations that apply to all drivers of Hackney Carriages, Private Hire Vehicle or Passenger Carrying Vehicles. The Minister was of a different view to that of Mr Afsal.
“The Minister said that whilst he wasn’t saying that there wasn’t any risk at all, he felt the risk was low and that the current regime was adequate. He has moved onto another Ministry and in those circumstances it would be useful to see if his successor agrees. I will make that enquiry.”
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