Oxford City Council fears over legal loophole with taxi licensing that could open door for child abuse

A LOOPHOLE allowing taxi drivers from other areas to work in Oxford could be closed as part of moves to protect young people.

Concern is growing about national rules that allow drivers licensed in one area to operate anywhere, regardless of differences in standards.

Officials say it allows hackney carriage drivers to avoid tougher standards in Oxford by getting credentials elsewhere and then working in the city for private hire firms.

Last year Oxford City Council estimated there were about 300 Hackney Carriages not licensed by it operating in the city, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights.

But now an influential committee of MPs has called on the Government to close the loophole.

Their comments come after a review of efforts to tackle child exploitation in Oxfordshire – carried out in the wake of the Bullfinch child sexual abuse investigation – warned the loophole made it harder to keep children safe because the authority that issues the licence is responsible for enforcement.

Colin Cook, vice-chairman of the city council’s licensing committee, said: “At the moment, it is in theory possible for someone to get a hackney carriage licence in the worst enforcement authority in the country, wherever that is, and still come and work in Oxford.

“We do what we can to make sure most are licensed here by us, but there is an increasing minority now coming from elsewhere and it can become more problematic when you are having to rely on them taking enforcement action.”

The Communities and Local Government Committee’s call was part of a review of the situation in Rotherham, which was at the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal, where measures to introduce CCTV were being “undermined” by neighbouring areas that do not require it.

The committee said: “We believe local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.”

In Oxford, the city council has previously complained that higher standards in the city were being undermined by neighbouring authorities, including training in safeguarding. They have been working towards joint enforcement agreements but have yet to reach a deal.

But Mark Green, director of 001 Taxis in Oxford, said his firm needed to use drivers from “across Oxfordshire” because it operated over the whole county.

He added: “If councils wants to do more about these issues, they should raise standards together. We have an operator’s license for every area and have no problem taking people on across Oxfordshire.

“The fees outside Oxford are cheaper for drivers but they still have to do the same DBS (disclosure and barring service) checks, so it is not a safeguarding issue.”

source: http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/

Uber launches legal action over new London licensing rules

Uber has launched legal action against London’s transport regulator over new rules that threaten to limit its business in the capital, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The billion-dollar startup is seeking a judicial review to halt the introduction of new rules it claims are too strict.

Transport for London set out new regulations earlier this year after a wide-ranging consultation of the taxi and minicab industry following a long-standing feud between Uber and London’s black cab drivers.

The initial regulation was previously welcomed by Uber, but in recent months the details of the rules have become too onerous, Uber claims.

Now, Uber is pursuing legal action over the matter, filing official papers with the courts this week after sending a so-called letter before action to TfL.

TfL said it would defend the legality of the new regulations.

“We responded to Uber’s letter and will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by them in relation to the changes to private hire regulations,” a TfL spokesperson told City A.M.

“These have been introduced to enhance public safety when using private hire services and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish.”

Uber is challenging four of the new rules; requiring written English tests for drivers, having to locate its customer service call centre in London, requiring insurance that covers drivers when they are not working and having to alert TfL of changes to its business model or app.

It last week rallied customers to contact the mayor of London urging him to review the regulation while business leaders and entrepreneurs have also written to Sadiq Khan asking him to rethink the rules, raising concerns that the red tape could stifle innovation and London’s digital economy in the wake of Brexit.

It comes as the mayor promised to make new plans for the future of the taxi and minicab industry in the capital.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq has asked his team to produce a comprehensive new strategy that will herald in a new era for the capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

“Further details will be released later this year of a plan that will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make London’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.”

City Hall would not be drawn on whether this would include reviewing the new regulations, agreed under former mayor Boris Johnson.

Tom Elvidge, general manager at Uber London, said: “This legal action is very much a last resort. We’re particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber.”

London’s cabbies, who believe the new rules do not go far enough, have also backed Uber’s call for a rethink, indicating the black cab trade stood to gain from a more favourable outcome.

The head of the London Taxi Drivers Association Steve McNamara on Monday said he was confident Khan would do “what’s right for London”.

Other minicab firms in the capital have backed the new regulation, however.

Addison Lee chief executive Andy Boland said: “Having previously backed the proposals it’s hard to understand Uber’s resistance to implementation of these new regulations. The whole industry was fully involved in the consultation and there is a strong belief that they will benefit both passengers and drivers.”

Gett managing director for Europe Remo Gerber called Uber’s U-turn on the regulations “baffling”.

“Frankly we’re surprised we’re wasting time on this. We should be focusing on the post Brexit needs of London, not minor operational details,” he said.

source: http://www.cityam.com/247633

 

Minicab firms Addison Lee and Uber at war over Mayor’s private hire rules

The biggest minicab firm in Europe has written to Sadiq Khan attacking Uber’s bid to water down tough new private hire rules.

Addison Lee, which has 5,000 licensed drivers, told the Mayor it was “indefensible” that Uber has launched legal action against Transport for London’s new rules.

The regulations include written English tests for drivers and vehicles being insured even when they are not being used as minicabs.

Uber’s London general manager Tom Elvidge said: “The goalposts have moved at the last minute”, adding that the new rules would be “bad for both drivers and companies like Uber”.

Addison Lee chief Andy Boland said Uber was trying to “undermine” the new passenger safety rules.

Mr Boland has written to the Mayor to say he continued to support the new rules. TfL said it would defend its plans in court.

source: http://www.standard.co.uk/

Taxi drivers having to work longer hours to make a living

New research shows both Hackney and private hire drivers in the city have had to increase their working hours over the last three years

Taxi drivers in Liverpool are working harder than ever just to make ends meet, a new study reveals.

The research shows Hackney and private hire drivers in the city , including those working for Uber, travel 27,485 miles a year and take an average of 95 fares a week – up 35 fares since similar research carried out in 2013.

The survey of more than 1,000 drivers across the UK, including Liverpool, was commissioned by taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

Longer hours

More than a third of respondents in Liverpool said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with 45% citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road.

Half of drivers in Liverpool said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home.

In an average week, taxi drivers in Liverpool are now working 43 hours and earning £316, making the average hourly rate £7.35 – £0.65 above the current national minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 68p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £64.60 in tips each week.

Rising costs

But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Liverpool spend £100 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,901 a year on their taxi insurance – totalling an average of £8,193 of expenditure each year.

The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Liverpool, with 35% stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

And 28% think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 17% of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat.

Increasing demands

“Speaking to over 1,000 taxi drivers has given us a real insight into the demands and challenges faced by our customers,” explained Tim Crighton, marketing director of insureTAXI. “Taxi drivers are having to work longer hours in order to combat the increase in competition and changes in consumers’ lifestyles.

“What’s more, the associated costs of being a taxi driver is a real concern to some – especially when they feel that there isn’t as much business available as there was a few years ago.”

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/

Taxi ‘legal loophole’ could put children at risk in Rotherham

Ministers have been urged to ‘act without delay’ to prevent a ‘damaging’ legal loophole from putting young people in Rotherham at risk in taxis.

Since the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham was revealed in 2014, all taxi drivers in the town now have strict rules to adhere to, including having CCTV installed in their vehicles.

But the Communities and Local Government Committee said it is concerned that taxis licensed by other local authorities may still operate in Rotherham, even if the drivers have had their application for a Rotherham licence rejected.

MPs said action is needed to address the ‘damaging’ legal loophole to prevent young and vulnerable people from being put at risk.

They have called for Government departments to prepare guidance in law over taxi licensing ‘without delay’, adding that new legislation should be considered.

Taxi drivers had a ‘prominent role’ in child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, according to the 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay which suggested that 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period while those in authority turned a blind eye.

Children were often transported in taxis while they were moved around to be abused.

A report by Communities and Local Government Committee says: “We believe that local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.

“We recommend that, in order to ensure that lessons are learned from experiences in Rotherham, the Department for

Communities and Local Government works with the Home Office and the Department for Transport on the preparation of statutory guidance under the Policing and Crime Bill in relation to taxi licensing.

“That guidance should be brought forward without delay. Once the guidance has been introduced, the Government should monitor the extent to which it ensures consistently high standards in taxi licensing across the country, and also enables local authorities to put in place and enforce specific measures which are appropriate for their local circumstances.

“If guidance is not able to achieve this, the Government should consider legislation.”

source: http://www.thestar.co.uk/

Delta private-hire driver pleads not guilty to raping male passenger

Private hire driver Khaldon Mohammed, 30, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger in Aigburth.

Khaldon Mohammed will stand trial in the new year

A Delta private hire driver has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger.

Khaldon Mohammed is alleged to have attacked the customer in his taxi in Aigburth late last year.

Mohammed, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth , is alleged to have picked up the victim before attacking him near Sefton Park

The 30-year-old denied two counts of rape at Liverpool Crown Court today and is due to stand trial on January 12.

He was released on bail with conditions not to drive a taxi and not to contact the complainant.

He must also sign on at a police station three times a week.

Bootle-based Delta is one of the biggest minicab companies in the North West and employs more than 2,200 private hire drivers, according to its website.

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/

Aug 26

Oxford City Council fears over legal loophole with taxi licensing that could open door for child abuse

A LOOPHOLE allowing taxi drivers from other areas to work in Oxford could be closed as part of moves to protect young people.

Concern is growing about national rules that allow drivers licensed in one area to operate anywhere, regardless of differences in standards.

Officials say it allows hackney carriage drivers to avoid tougher standards in Oxford by getting credentials elsewhere and then working in the city for private hire firms.

Last year Oxford City Council estimated there were about 300 Hackney Carriages not licensed by it operating in the city, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights.

But now an influential committee of MPs has called on the Government to close the loophole.

Their comments come after a review of efforts to tackle child exploitation in Oxfordshire – carried out in the wake of the Bullfinch child sexual abuse investigation – warned the loophole made it harder to keep children safe because the authority that issues the licence is responsible for enforcement.

Colin Cook, vice-chairman of the city council’s licensing committee, said: “At the moment, it is in theory possible for someone to get a hackney carriage licence in the worst enforcement authority in the country, wherever that is, and still come and work in Oxford.

“We do what we can to make sure most are licensed here by us, but there is an increasing minority now coming from elsewhere and it can become more problematic when you are having to rely on them taking enforcement action.”

The Communities and Local Government Committee’s call was part of a review of the situation in Rotherham, which was at the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal, where measures to introduce CCTV were being “undermined” by neighbouring areas that do not require it.

The committee said: “We believe local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.”

In Oxford, the city council has previously complained that higher standards in the city were being undermined by neighbouring authorities, including training in safeguarding. They have been working towards joint enforcement agreements but have yet to reach a deal.

But Mark Green, director of 001 Taxis in Oxford, said his firm needed to use drivers from “across Oxfordshire” because it operated over the whole county.

He added: “If councils wants to do more about these issues, they should raise standards together. We have an operator’s license for every area and have no problem taking people on across Oxfordshire.

“The fees outside Oxford are cheaper for drivers but they still have to do the same DBS (disclosure and barring service) checks, so it is not a safeguarding issue.”

source: http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/

Aug 19

Uber launches legal action over new London licensing rules

Uber has launched legal action against London’s transport regulator over new rules that threaten to limit its business in the capital, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The billion-dollar startup is seeking a judicial review to halt the introduction of new rules it claims are too strict.

Transport for London set out new regulations earlier this year after a wide-ranging consultation of the taxi and minicab industry following a long-standing feud between Uber and London’s black cab drivers.

The initial regulation was previously welcomed by Uber, but in recent months the details of the rules have become too onerous, Uber claims.

Now, Uber is pursuing legal action over the matter, filing official papers with the courts this week after sending a so-called letter before action to TfL.

TfL said it would defend the legality of the new regulations.

“We responded to Uber’s letter and will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by them in relation to the changes to private hire regulations,” a TfL spokesperson told City A.M.

“These have been introduced to enhance public safety when using private hire services and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish.”

Uber is challenging four of the new rules; requiring written English tests for drivers, having to locate its customer service call centre in London, requiring insurance that covers drivers when they are not working and having to alert TfL of changes to its business model or app.

It last week rallied customers to contact the mayor of London urging him to review the regulation while business leaders and entrepreneurs have also written to Sadiq Khan asking him to rethink the rules, raising concerns that the red tape could stifle innovation and London’s digital economy in the wake of Brexit.

It comes as the mayor promised to make new plans for the future of the taxi and minicab industry in the capital.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq has asked his team to produce a comprehensive new strategy that will herald in a new era for the capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

“Further details will be released later this year of a plan that will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make London’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.”

City Hall would not be drawn on whether this would include reviewing the new regulations, agreed under former mayor Boris Johnson.

Tom Elvidge, general manager at Uber London, said: “This legal action is very much a last resort. We’re particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber.”

London’s cabbies, who believe the new rules do not go far enough, have also backed Uber’s call for a rethink, indicating the black cab trade stood to gain from a more favourable outcome.

The head of the London Taxi Drivers Association Steve McNamara on Monday said he was confident Khan would do “what’s right for London”.

Other minicab firms in the capital have backed the new regulation, however.

Addison Lee chief executive Andy Boland said: “Having previously backed the proposals it’s hard to understand Uber’s resistance to implementation of these new regulations. The whole industry was fully involved in the consultation and there is a strong belief that they will benefit both passengers and drivers.”

Gett managing director for Europe Remo Gerber called Uber’s U-turn on the regulations “baffling”.

“Frankly we’re surprised we’re wasting time on this. We should be focusing on the post Brexit needs of London, not minor operational details,” he said.

source: http://www.cityam.com/247633

 

Minicab firms Addison Lee and Uber at war over Mayor’s private hire rules

The biggest minicab firm in Europe has written to Sadiq Khan attacking Uber’s bid to water down tough new private hire rules.

Addison Lee, which has 5,000 licensed drivers, told the Mayor it was “indefensible” that Uber has launched legal action against Transport for London’s new rules.

The regulations include written English tests for drivers and vehicles being insured even when they are not being used as minicabs.

Uber’s London general manager Tom Elvidge said: “The goalposts have moved at the last minute”, adding that the new rules would be “bad for both drivers and companies like Uber”.

Addison Lee chief Andy Boland said Uber was trying to “undermine” the new passenger safety rules.

Mr Boland has written to the Mayor to say he continued to support the new rules. TfL said it would defend its plans in court.

source: http://www.standard.co.uk/

Aug 19

Taxi drivers having to work longer hours to make a living

New research shows both Hackney and private hire drivers in the city have had to increase their working hours over the last three years

Taxi drivers in Liverpool are working harder than ever just to make ends meet, a new study reveals.

The research shows Hackney and private hire drivers in the city , including those working for Uber, travel 27,485 miles a year and take an average of 95 fares a week – up 35 fares since similar research carried out in 2013.

The survey of more than 1,000 drivers across the UK, including Liverpool, was commissioned by taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

Longer hours

More than a third of respondents in Liverpool said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with 45% citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road.

Half of drivers in Liverpool said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home.

In an average week, taxi drivers in Liverpool are now working 43 hours and earning £316, making the average hourly rate £7.35 – £0.65 above the current national minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 68p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £64.60 in tips each week.

Rising costs

But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Liverpool spend £100 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,901 a year on their taxi insurance – totalling an average of £8,193 of expenditure each year.

The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Liverpool, with 35% stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

And 28% think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 17% of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat.

Increasing demands

“Speaking to over 1,000 taxi drivers has given us a real insight into the demands and challenges faced by our customers,” explained Tim Crighton, marketing director of insureTAXI. “Taxi drivers are having to work longer hours in order to combat the increase in competition and changes in consumers’ lifestyles.

“What’s more, the associated costs of being a taxi driver is a real concern to some – especially when they feel that there isn’t as much business available as there was a few years ago.”

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/

Aug 19

Taxi ‘legal loophole’ could put children at risk in Rotherham

Ministers have been urged to ‘act without delay’ to prevent a ‘damaging’ legal loophole from putting young people in Rotherham at risk in taxis.

Since the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham was revealed in 2014, all taxi drivers in the town now have strict rules to adhere to, including having CCTV installed in their vehicles.

But the Communities and Local Government Committee said it is concerned that taxis licensed by other local authorities may still operate in Rotherham, even if the drivers have had their application for a Rotherham licence rejected.

MPs said action is needed to address the ‘damaging’ legal loophole to prevent young and vulnerable people from being put at risk.

They have called for Government departments to prepare guidance in law over taxi licensing ‘without delay’, adding that new legislation should be considered.

Taxi drivers had a ‘prominent role’ in child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, according to the 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay which suggested that 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period while those in authority turned a blind eye.

Children were often transported in taxis while they were moved around to be abused.

A report by Communities and Local Government Committee says: “We believe that local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.

“We recommend that, in order to ensure that lessons are learned from experiences in Rotherham, the Department for

Communities and Local Government works with the Home Office and the Department for Transport on the preparation of statutory guidance under the Policing and Crime Bill in relation to taxi licensing.

“That guidance should be brought forward without delay. Once the guidance has been introduced, the Government should monitor the extent to which it ensures consistently high standards in taxi licensing across the country, and also enables local authorities to put in place and enforce specific measures which are appropriate for their local circumstances.

“If guidance is not able to achieve this, the Government should consider legislation.”

source: http://www.thestar.co.uk/

Aug 16

Delta private-hire driver pleads not guilty to raping male passenger

Private hire driver Khaldon Mohammed, 30, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger in Aigburth.

Khaldon Mohammed will stand trial in the new year

A Delta private hire driver has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger.

Khaldon Mohammed is alleged to have attacked the customer in his taxi in Aigburth late last year.

Mohammed, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth , is alleged to have picked up the victim before attacking him near Sefton Park

The 30-year-old denied two counts of rape at Liverpool Crown Court today and is due to stand trial on January 12.

He was released on bail with conditions not to drive a taxi and not to contact the complainant.

He must also sign on at a police station three times a week.

Bootle-based Delta is one of the biggest minicab companies in the North West and employs more than 2,200 private hire drivers, according to its website.

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/

Aug 15

Mystery passengers could be used to snare illegal street pick up private hire drivers

MYSTERY passengers could be used to nab private hire drivers who illegally pick up people who flag them down in the street.

City council bosses believe the move could save passengers being put at risk by rogue drivers.

The city has almost 3000 private hire cars which can only pick up people who have pre-booked and are not allowed to trawl the streets for trade – known as pirating.

Licensing bosses say pirating is not only a breach of licence conditions but poses a serious threat to the safety of passengers.

They warn there will be no recorded details of the journey putting people in a potentially vulnerable situation and open to being exploited by inflated fares.

A report to councillors says: “If details of the journey are not known or recorded by the booking office, it can be much more difficult to trace the driver if unlawful or inappropriate behaviour occurs.

“The risk to the safety of passengers in these circumstances can be exacerbated as pirating tends to happen during peak periods late at night and in the early hours of the morning, often when passengers may be under the influence of alcohol.

“There are also potentially serious consequences for members of the public and other road users as the driver of the private hire car engaged in pirating is very unlikely to be covered by a valid policy of motor insurance in the event of an accident if he or she is operating contrary to the conditions of their licence.”

Officers from the council’s taxi and private hire car enforcement unit carry out regular action checks in known hot spots at peak periods.

That has resulted in a significant number of drivers facing having their license suspended.

But the report adds: “Pirating continues to be a serious and widespread issue and additional robust measures are required to tackle and deter drivers from continuing to engage in this illegal and irresponsible practice.”

It says introducing mystery passengers will allow the enforcement unit to identify and gather evidence against pirate drivers.

Taxi and private hire companies will be informed of the plan in advance.

The report says: “It is hoped this will act as a more effective deterrent to those drivers who might consider picking up passengers who have not made a booking if there is a risk the potential passenger is part of a mystery shopper operation.

“Another key component of launching a mystery shopper scheme is to raise awareness among members of the public of the dangers of getting into a private hire car that has not been pre-booked.”

Stephen Flynn, vice chairman of Glasgow Taxis, said he hoped the council plan would be introduced as soon as possible.

He added: “The existing regulations are in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike and anyone caught in breach of them should be sanctioned accordingly.

Read more: Decision day on age limit for city taxis

“We advise anyone hailing a cab on the street to look for the distinguishable yellow flag on each of our 800 vehicles.”

source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/

Aug 15

Bristol taxi driver who couldn’t pay for sex hit prostitute with a frying pan, court told

Tonia Noto said she knew Ayman Yousif as a client and he propositioned her for sex as she worked in Fishponds Road

A prostitute told a jury that a punter who didn’t have money to pay her for services bludgeoned her with a frying pan.

Tonia Noto said she knew Ayman Yousif as a client and he propositioned her for sex as she worked in Fishponds Road, Bristol Crown Court heard.

But she said when she went to his nearby flat later he didn’t have the money to pay her and became agitated, attacking her with a frying pan and screwdriver.

Yousif, 46, formerly of Fishponds Road but now living in Bothwell Street, Edinburgh, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm in April 2014.

Ms Noto said she had smoked drugs and done business with taxi driver Yousif, whom she knew as Ali, before.

But she said after he wanted to have sex, she twice went to his flat but he had no money to pay her.

She told Bristol Crown Court: “The second time we sat down and talked a little bit.

“Then he started groping me, he touched my breasts and crotch.

“I said I needed him to pay me. He only had £10.”

With that Yousif became agitated, she said.

She told the court she backed up against a draining board, feeling for something to defend herself, when Yousif attacked her.

She said: “He picked up a frying pan and repeatedly hit me with it. He was hitting me across my head, I raised my arm and he hit my arm.”

Ms Noto recounted how she screamed for help, hoping her partner stood outside would hear her.

Yousif continued to attack her with a frying pan, bit her and also struck her with a screwdriver, she said.

Ms Noto said: “It was just crazy.”

Even though Yousif locked his front door and tried to block it with a sofa, Ms Noto managed to unlock the door.

She said her partner then came in and punched Yousif to the floor before police arrived on the scene.

Though she suffered black eyes, a lump on the back of her head and bruising she told police “forget it” when they arrived.

But the court heard she made a complaint later after speaking to the One25 project, a charity which helps street sex workers.

Yousif said the woman came to his flat wanting money to buy drugs, hit him with his frying pan and stabbed him and he defended himself.

He told the jury: “I didn’t approach her for sex. I didn’t become angry. I wasn’t violent towards her,”

The case continues.

Read more at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/

Aug 15

Extra training for Burnley taxi drivers

Burnley Council is set to introduce training to raise child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness among taxi drivers, in line with advice and guidance from national experts.

The council is recommended to incorporate CSE training as a requirement for all hackney carriage (black cab) and private hire drivers licensed in the borough.

The training is aimed at providing taxi drivers with the means to recognise vulnerability and act positively in engaging with other agencies, providing guidance as to how they should behave with all customers, not just young people, and how the council and taxi trade can work together using the drivers as our “eyes and ears” out there.

The CSE training has been developed throughout east Lancashire by licensing officers to ensure a consistent approach to training and has the support of the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner.

If agreed, the new rules would mean all existing drivers who complete a council-approved awareness course before the end of this year could so without any cost to them. Any new driver or operator licence applicants would have to cover the £15 cost themselves.

The council has been in discussions with the taxi trade regarding introducing the awareness course.

The council’s principal licensing officer Peter Henderson said: “Everyone has a role to play in tackling child exploitation.

“Taxi drivers can find themselves in situations where they are with young people who could be in a vulnerable state or who could be in need of help. We want all our drivers and operators to be better informed about the issue of child exploitation and people trafficking and be able to act in a positive way if necessary.

“This is about supporting the wider work that the police and other agencies are doing to protect vulnerable young people. It’s about introducing ‘best practice’ and giving drivers and operators some basic knowledge and information so that, if a situation does arise, they know how to deal with it.

“We all have a role in tackling child sexual exploitation and the basic rule is ‘if there’s doubt, there is no doubt’. If a taxi driver is concerned about the safety of a young person in their cab this course will show that what they should do.”

The course will be delivered by safeguarding professionals at Burnley College who worked with specialist officers from Lancashire Police. Training is expected to take around two hours to complete.

The report to the licensing committee highlights the inquiry into the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal which found that “there is nowhere more important than in taxi licensing where sometimes vulnerable people are unaccompanied in a car with a stranger.”

Burnley’s approach is about acting in line with the best practice nationally.

It is part of the wider partnership working between the council and the taxi trade to make sure that everyone who uses taxis can be confident about the service they are receiving.

The training for drivers and operators has five core themes:

  • Basic CSE awareness, signs and symptoms
  • Recognition of their own responsibilities
  • Recognise how they should behave professionally
  • How they can report any concerns, suspicions they have
  • Understanding victims – breaking myths

    source: http://www.2br.co.uk/

Aug 10

Renfrew taxi driver caught with £300,000 of cocaine on M74 motorway

A RENFREW taxi driver who was caught ferrying high purity cocaine worth more than £300,000 on the streets was jailed two years and eight months today.

Thomas Haggerty was stopped by police near Lockerbie, in Dumfriesshire, as he drove the consignment of Class A drugs north.

Haggerty, 30, of Lang Avenue, Renfrew, was found to have two kilos of cocaine after he was stopped by officers on July 28 last year.

But the blocks, which were stamped with a “Vans” logo, were discovered to be nearly 60 per cent pure after testing.

They had the potential to produce eight kilos of the drug if they were bulked out to produce narcotics of the normal level of strength found on the streets.

If the adulterated drug was sold in one gram deals it had the potential to be worth £312,000.

A judge told Haggerty at the High Court in Edinburgh: “The trafficking in Class A drugs is a vile and evil trade bringing misery to individuals and communities.”

Lord Boyd of Duncansby said: “You have a limited record and from what I have read a good work ethos.”

The judge said that the amount of cocaine involved in the seizure was “not insignificant”.

He told Haggerty he would have jailed him for four years if he had been convicted after trial, but said the sentence would be reduced following his guilty plea.

Haggerty had earlier admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine on the A74(M) Carlisle to Glasgow road.

The court heard that police saw him driving in the northbound carriageway and were aware of intelligence that he was carrying drugs from the Merseyside area to Scotland. Haggerty was alone in the vehicle when it was stopped.

Defence counsel Paul Nelson said Haggerty had acted as a courier on one day after finding himself in “a difficult position”.

source: http://www.the-gazette.co.uk/

Aug 10

Uber minicab driver shows no remorse after he is jailed for 27 years for “execution” of Shawlands shopkeeper Asad Shah

A KILLER showed no remorse after he was jailed for life for the “execution” of popular Shawlands shopkeeper Asad Shah .

Tanveer Ahmed, 32, was told at Glasgow’s High Court on Tuesday that he will spend a minimum of 27 years in prison for the murder of the 40-year-old on March 24.

The killing, which was described by Lady Rae as an execution, happened at Mr Shah convenience store in Minard Road.

Mr Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim who moved from Pakistan to Glasgow in 1998, was discovered outside his shop with stab wounds and rushed to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

He had wished Christians a “very happy Easter” on Facebook hours before the brutal murder.

Uber minicab driver Ahmed was arrested and following a court hearing in April he released a statement through his lawyer saying Mr Shah had “disrespected the message of the Prophet Muhammad”.

He said the shopkeeper “claimed to be a prophet” and that “if I had not done this others would”.

The court was previously told Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim, drove from Bradford to Glasgow on the day of the murder and engaged in a discussion with Mr Shah at his store before pulling out a knife and attacking the shopkeeper.

En route to Glasgow he had watched online footage of Mr Shah and made the comment “something needs to be done, it needs nipped in the bud”.

Mr Shah fled violence in Pakistan to join his family in Scotland in 1998 and was granted asylum.

Ahmadis differ from the majority of Muslims in that they do not hold that Muhammad is the final Prophet.

Evidence gathered showed that Mr Shah had posted videos on Facebook and YouTube which could be seen as him claiming that he was a Prophet.

Lady Rae said the murder was a “brutal, barbaric and horrific crime resulting from intolerance.”

She told the court the CCTV footage captured during the murder was “an appalling display of merciless violence”.

She said: “You repeatedly stabbed Mr Shah and when his shop assistant bravely disarmed you, you did not desist but, determined to end his life, you continued the assault by repeatedly and forcefully punching, kicking and stamping on your victim’s head and neck.

“You ignored the pleas of Mr Shah’s brother to stop the attack. Such was the force of your repeated blows that some of the head and neck injuries found at the post mortem were described as being more commonly seen in victims of road accidents.”

The court heard Ahmed, from Bradford, was highly regarding within his own community.

The Judge said she had received glowing references and touching letters from Ahmed’s children.

When Ahmed was taken down to the cells, he raised a clenched fist and shouted loudly: “Praise for the Prophet Muhammad, there is only one Prophet.”

Some of his supporters in the courtroom responded by raising their arms and repeating the phrase.

Female relatives of Ahmed were in tears as they left the court.

Police Scotland officers said from the outset that they believed the attack was religiously prejudiced.

Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty, Local Policing Commander for Greater Glasgow Division, said, “Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Asad Shah, whose presence in the community is very much missed by everyone who knew him.

“I hope that the sentencing today will reassure the immediate community in Glasgow’s south-side as well as communities all across Scotland that acts of violence such as this are utterly unacceptable and cannot be justified.

“Glasgow is a strong, united, multi-faith community that has immense pride in its diversity. In fact, our communities celebrate this diversity, with people from all backgrounds, faiths and culture living, working and socialising together. Religious intolerance in any form is simply not tolerated in our society and Police Scotland will work in partnership with our communities to eradicate such behaviour, to ensure that no individual, group or community feels isolated, marginalised or threatened.”

source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/

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