Three private hire drivers have been fined after pleading guilty to picking up passengers illegally.
Mohammed Khakpour, of Eighth Street, Milton Keynes, Francis Agyekum, of Buckingham Gate, Eaglestone, Milton Keynes, and Salim Ahmed, of Northampton, admitted to plying for hire when they appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
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.
Mr Ahmed was fined £770 and ordered to pay £310 in costs with a £46 victim surcharge.
Mr Khakpour was fined £200 and ordered to pay £310 in costs with a £20 victim surcharge.
Mr Agyekum was fined £585 and ordered to pay £321 in costs with a £35 victim surcharge.
All three drivers received six DVLA penalty points.
The court heard how on December 19 and 20 last year, enforcement 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 the officers showed that none of the drivers were allocated legitimate collections from the locations they were caught plying from.
The vehicles involved were all displaying private hire door signs (one each) for Private Hire Operators Starline, Speedline and Eezy Cabs.
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 insurance.
When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.
Neil Allen, Head of Regulatory Services at Milton Keynes Council said: “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.
“These taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in their private hire vehicles. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover
means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.
“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 prearranged booking for their own safety.
“These operations by Milton Keynes Council will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”