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Even as UK plans better criminal records checks for taxi drivers, their safety concerns still unaddressed

So many immigrants earning their livelihood as cabbies may find themselves zooming towards additional checks.

 

Driving at public safety, the Home Office has made it clear that taxi drivers will be eligible for enhanced background checks under new proposals.

The proposals will allow taxi licensing authorities to carry out enhanced criminal records checks on their drivers before they are issued with a licence. Current drivers will get additional checks when they renew their licence.

Even as the Home Office is aiming at the safety of the passengers, the safety concerns of the cabbies remain an issue that needs to be redressed.

The taxi drivers have a challenging job at times and they have to take people, who are often intoxicated. As such, incidents such as criminal damage, assault and verbal abuse are not uncommon.

Protesting against being abused by drunken punters and subjected to physical, verbal and racist attacks, chairman of Cardiff Hackney Association Mathab Khan only redcently said city cabbies were regularly subjected to physical and verbal attacks, racism and foul language. It even left their cars damaged. In fact, their vehicles were kicked and even punched.

The Home Office said: `Under the current regime, only drivers who pick up children or vulnerable adults are automatically eligible for enhanced checks, although some firms do choose to get these extra checks for drivers as a matter of course.

`These proposals standardise the practice and simplify the system giving additional reassurance to women travelling alone and other vulnerable customers using taxi services.

`The proposed changes are part of plans to simplify and reform the system of criminal records checks, while ensuring adequate protections are in place where they are needed most.

`Licensing authorities will make the final decision on whether to grant a licence based on the information available to them. Criminal records checks play a vital role in recruitment practices, providing employers with the information they need to employ the right person for the role’.

Criminal Information Minister Lynne Featherstone said: 'We are determined to ensure the criminal records scheme is balanced to respect civil liberties and protect the public.

'Taxi drivers provide a valuable service transporting children to school and lone women home after a night out so it is only right that the public should have confidence proper checks have been carried out.

'These proposals will ensure that licensing authorities have all the information they need to make informed decisions before granting licences to drivers.'

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