Uber driver ‘sped off after spotting visually impaired passenger and her daughter, 15, had a guide dog’

  • Claire Currie, from Liverpool, left by Uber driver ‘because of guide dog’ 
  • The ‘shaken’ mother was trying to take daughter to a hospital appointment
  • Uber are investigating and the driver may lose access to the popular app 

A minicab driver may permanently lose access to Uber after a passenger claims her and her daughter were left stranded because he spotted they had a guide dog.

This is not the first time Claire Currie, from Mossley Hill, in Liverpool, has been refused a minicab because of her guide dog Purdey.

The mother-of-four, who used to be a teacher, has a genetic condition leaving her with extremely limited vision, which she described is like ‘seeing through a straw’.

Her dog Purdey was helping her take her 15-year-old daughter to an appointment at Alder Hay Children’s Hospital.

Claire Currie, from Liverpool, has been left worried about her and her daughter’s independence after she believes an Uber taxi driver drove off because they saw her guide dog, Purdey

But the incident has left her feeling shaken and she is worried it has knocked her daughter’s confidence too, after she is starting to be affected by the same condition.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo Ms Currie said: ‘I have a condition which means my vision is extremely restricted – it’s the equivalent of looking through two straws – so I like to use the app as it’s really accessible.

‘We’ve been refused access to taxis before now, but I’ve never experienced it with Uber. Usually drivers are really helpful and they’ll move the seat back to make space for the dog and make sure that everyone is comfortable.

Ms Currie was trying to take her daughter to Alder Hay Children’s Hospital (pictured) and is worried the incident has knocked her confidence as she is also starting to be affected by the condition
‘On this occasion though he just drove off – it’s really disheartening. The reason you get a guide dog is so that you can get your independence back and get your life back, and situations like this do knock your confidence.

‘Purdey is my third guide dog, and it’s down to them that I’ve been able to be so independent. They really are life changing so it’s so upsetting when somebody tries to take that away from you.’

Ms Currie explained that although her daughter’s vision is ok at the moment, it is likely to deteriorate and she wants to show her that life will still be ok and she can be independent, but incidents like this don’t help.

She added: ‘My daughter’s vision is fine at the moment, she struggles in the dark but is mostly fine – but her condition will get worse over time and eventually she will have very limited vision like me.

‘I try to lead by example and show her that she can be independent but I worry that situations like this will knock her confidence and worry her for the future.

Ms Currie has been refused other taxis in the past and also believes it is because of her guide dog

‘In the past when I’ve been refused from taxis she’s been the one to stick up for me, but I worry that she wouldn’t stick up for herself in the same way.’

According to the popular taxi app, Uber bosses are investigating the report and said if any driver is found to refuse a service animal, they will ‘permanently lose access to the Uber app.’

Uber admit they are investigating what happened to Ms Currie and say it is ‘totally unacceptable’

An Uber spokesperson told the local paper: ‘It’s totally unacceptable for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog and we are investigating this report.

‘Licensed private-hire drivers must carry service animals in their vehicle and we remind all drivers of this legal obligation before they start using the Uber app. Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the Uber app and risks having their private hire licence taken away.’

Lynette Proctor, engagement officer for Guide Dogs Liverpool added: ‘It is incredibly disappointing to hear about Claire’s experience. This is the first access refusal we have had from an Uber driver in our area.

‘Shockingly, for people living with sight loss being refused access to a taxi or private hire vehicle because they are accompanied by a guide dog happens far too often.

‘It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted.

‘At Guide Dogs we want tougher sentences for drivers who turn away assistance dog owners.’


Under the Equality Act 2010 all drivers and public transport operators have to take guide dogs, and any other assistance dogs, at no extra cost.

They must not treat the guide dog owner less favourably because of their impairment.

Under the Act, there may be occasion for an individual driver to hold an Exemption Certificate which relates to a specific medical condition.

But it is not acceptable to refuse transport for religious or cultural beliefs, a view that is supported by the Muslim Shariat Council.

A guide dog owner equally has responsibilities to ensure that the dog is clearly an assistance dog, through use of a harness and/or identification card.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Union plans legal action over council wheelchair taxi dispute

A taxi drivers’ union is planning to take legal action against Dundee City Council in a row over wheelchair accessible vehicles.

GMB Scotland has made the decision amid a three-year dispute with the council.

The current system — which the GMB describes as a “two-tier workforce” — requires some drivers to buy wheelchair accessible vehicles, which start at £19,000, whereas other drivers are allowed to buy a vehicle from as little as £1,000.

GMB officer Drew Duffy said: “Dundee City Council seem to be happy with this two-tier system — all we want is a level playing for all taxi drivers.

“We have drivers who were operational prior to changes in 2003, who could purchase any vehicle. Then after Dundee City Council changed their policy on new taxi operators, drivers had to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles.

“The problem is some of these drivers, prior to the changes in 2003, have now retired but their badges are still active.

“Their vehicles are operating in the city driven by other drivers, so they don’t have to adhere to the changes in the law. I believe this represents around 40% of the taxi drivers in Dundee.”

Licensing committee chairman Stewart Hunter said he understood the frustrations of the taxi drivers but insisted the committee has to decide what is best for the public.

He said: “We have a policy at the moment where the fleet is mixed. I understand their frustrations because it is costing some drivers more than others to buy vehicles.

“But our focus, first and foremost, is what is best for the Dundee public and they want a mixed fleet. We had a consultation around four years ago with disability groups, which the taxi liaison group were present at. We tested out a series of different vehicles and it was apparent that not all passengers were able to access a disabled vehicle which is why we decided to operate a mixed fleet.”

But Drew said: “I would argue that Edinburgh and Glasgow already operate a service where all taxis are wheelchair accessible so I can’t understand why we can’t. We have a date set in November for the case but I hope we can reach a decision prior to this. All we ask is the council to review the system currently in place.”

source: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/

Taxi wars hot up in York as cabbies and Uber clash

  • Hackney drivers demand level playing field
  • York council blames Government changes and less rigorous councils
  • Uber says its drivers are acting perfectly legally

TAXI operators have raised further concerns about drivers from outside the city operating in York.

They claim operators are travelling from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and elsewhere to pick up fares, mainly on weekends, in part due to a lack of enforcement but also due to a new company starting up in York.

Keith Hatfield, director of York Station Taxis, met the council last week and said changes to council policy meant it was easier for other companies to work in the city.

He said: “We’re not afraid of York competition that’s what we’re after, that’s fine. But as long as it’s a level playing field, that’s all we’re asking for.

“They can join Uber from York, we don’t have a problem with that, but these people haven’t gone through the local knowledge test, which takes quite a while. I know people who’ve been waiting to get through that for nine months, it’s a tough test, but makes you a better driver.”

Mr Hatfield said some Uber drivers had refused to move from Hackney ranks while waiting for a pickup, and “we have had to put rank marshals to move them”.

Dave McTernan, from Getaway Cars in York, said “dozens of out of town cars are patrolling the streets of York and working night and day”, and called it “a bad situation”.

He said: “It’s not being dramatic to say it’s out of control.

“It’s a free for all in York at the moment. We’re controlled by strict CYC regulations for everything, but getting all these cowboys coming into town and doing things illegally so it’s very aggravating.

“With Uber, the reason they are putting so much pressure on is because they know they’ve to have cars here and are paying drivers £14 an hour to come across here without bookings.”

A spokeswoman for Uber said there had been “interest from dozens of local drivers”, and all their drivers “must hold a valid private hire licence from their local city council and must maintain valid insurance and vehicle maintenance”, which also included going through an enhanced background check (DBS).

She said: “Regulations governing private hire are quite clear. Drivers licensed for private hires can pick up and drop off anywhere in England and Wales so long as their driving licence and vehicle licence match the operator licence that processes that booking.

“Uber holds operator’s licences in York, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield among others and drivers across the UK can use the Uber app to collect fares in compliance with their local licence.”

Matt Boxall, acting head of public protection at City of York Council, said the authority’s standards for drivers was high, but “other local authorities apply their own level of checks prior to licensing drivers and their vehicles, and now government laws have made it easier for licensed drivers to work in different towns”.

The council’s enforcement team currently includes 12 officers to cover “taxi licensing, environmental health and trading standards”, and two more officers were due to be appointed this week.

Mr Boxall urged anyone with concerns about drivers or vehicles to phone 01904 551525 or email public.protection@york.gov.uk

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

Updated rules on offenders applying for taxi licences in Barrow in wake of Rotherham child abuse scandal

NEW guidelines have been approved spelling out when former offenders can become taxi drivers in Barrow.

A policy review for licensing hackney carriages and private cars has been completed and given the green light.

According to the policy’s wording, offenders convicted of murder, manslaughter, rape, and other serious crimes will have their application refused “unless there are exceptional circumstances”.

The Barrow Council’s Executive Committee said its policy on taxi licensing had to be updated following the child abuse scandal in Rotherham, and the role taxi drivers played.

Former offenders applying for licences will have to wait a period of time from when they were first convicted, or from their release if they were sent to prison.

People convicted of indecent exposure or soliciting would have to wait between five and 10 years before their application would be considered.

Arsonists, violent offenders and those convicted of racially aggravated crimes would also have to wait five years.

Committee chairman Councillor Dave Pidduck said: “As a council we have to make sure that all our policies are up to date.

“These are changes in that policy to reflect the modern situation.”

Councillor Brendan Sweeney and Cllr Pidduck both commented on the difficult task it was to draw a line in the sand for offences.

Cllr Sweeney said: “I think the licensing committee spend a lot of time looking at the individual cases. You have to draw the line between a mistake that someone made in the past or if there is no risk.

“Some one has to be able to make a living.”

Cllr Pidduck spoke of how taxi drivers should not be exempt from safeguarding regulations.

He said: “Safeguarding is so important now. They are in a position of trust.”

The new policy will also introduce changes to make sure taxi drivers are fit to drive.

New applicants will have to provide a medical certificate showing they are fit. Drivers over the age of 55 will be required to prove they are fit to drive every three years.

Drivers will also be required to complete a one-off knowledge test on the area, their understanding of the highway code and numeracy.

Some taxi drivers have supported the changes however there has been criticism these changes, and the charges they incur will push drivers out of the business.

In a public consultation, an anonymous taxi driver wrote: “I feel that I don’t see why we should have to pay to prove that I can do my job.”
Drivers will also have to require a DVSA driving assessment, however, this is no longer provided in Barrow – the nearest assessment centre is in Lancaster.

As a solution, Cllr Sweeney has called for an enterprising local business to start providing this service, he said: “There is a clear commercial opportunity for a local firm to take that up.”

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

Rotherham Council regains powers to grant taxi licences after ban in wake of child sex scandal

Licensing powers are the latest to be handed back to the council after a period of reform following damning reports which found that the local authority and South Yorkshire Police had turned a blind eye to men of predominantly Pakistani heritage abusing 1,400 vulnerable girls over a 16-year period.

The council’s licensing powers cover driving and operations licences for hackney carriage and private hire taxis, as well as alcohol licences.

Professor Alexis Jay’s report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, published in 2014, found that some taxi drivers had played a ‘prominent role’ in the offending.

A follow up inquiry, by Louise Casey, said there was a ‘well-publicised link between taxis and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that has cast a long shadow over the vast majority of law-abiding drivers’.

In a ministerial statement yesterday, Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones, said: “This marks significant progress, as licensing was one of the council’s services implicated by the Casey report as contributing to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

“I am now satisfied that the council could exercise the licensing function in compliance with its best value duty and I am consulting on revising directions accordingly.

“The most recent reports by commissioners appointed to oversee services in Rotherham had found that licensing services were now ready to return to council control, Mr Jones said.

He added: “The collective evidence demonstrates that the key objectives of the intervention, in relation to licensing, have been delivered.

“It is my assessment that the weaknesses in licensing identified in the Casey report have been addressed and the service is now functioning effectively.

“Officers and members have recognised the need for and implemented fundamental cultural change, and advisory board members, in particular the chair, are more capable and confident in their role.

“Commissioners will continue to have oversight of the service, Mr Jones added. Education, housing and planning functions were returned to the council in February.

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

Dec 08

Peacekeeping mission of the Leeds taxi marshals

Taxi marshals are being pressed into action in a bid to ensure this Christmas is a time of peace and goodwill in Leeds.

The marshals will help maintain order in the city centre from 10.30pm to 3.30am each Friday and Saturday over the festive period, up to and including New Year’s Eve.

They will be on duty at taxi ranks at Leeds City Station, on Call Lane and near Woodhouse Lane’s Oceana nightclub.

Team members will be in close contact with the police in case backup is needed.

Taxi marshals have worked to stop alcohol-fuelled revelry in the city centre getting out of hand each Christmas since 2005.

The Yorkshire Evening Post reported in September that this year’s scheme was under threat due to a lack of funding.

Joint backing has since been secured from Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, the NHS and the Business Against Crime In Leeds group.

Coun Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety, said today: “We know from experience that taxi marshals make a real difference to safety in the city.

“We want people to come into Leeds at night and we want them to have a good time.

“Taxi marshals make it easier to do that so I would like to thank our partners in the police, the NHS and Business Against Crime who have helped us fund the marshals this year.”

Coun Gruen added: “It’s important that people know they can enjoy the Christmas season and be safe at the same time, so just a reminder to people to always use a licensed cab and queue up where there are taxi marshals.”

Chief Insp Vernon Francis, from West Yorkshire Police’s City and Holbeck division, said: “Leeds city centre continues to be a very safe place to enjoy a night out.

“The reassuring presence of the taxi marshals in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year will complement the work we and our partner agencies are doing to help people enjoy the season safely.”

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

Dec 07

Countrywide spot checks on licensed vehicles

Danger taxis pulled off Southport roads in cab crackdown

MORE than 100 taxis were found operating on our roads with faults between September and November. Problems with tyres, lights and bodywork were among reasons for handing out 122 Vehicle Deficiency Notices (VDNs) to drivers during that period. Another 26 cabs were pulled off the road after inspectors decided they were too dangerous to drive.

The figures were revealed in a report to the Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Joint Working Group, which is meeting on Tuesday morning. From September 2 to November 22 this year, 387 taxis were inspected by council enforcement officers. Of the 57 Hackney Carriages checked, 25 were found to have faults.

Those issued with VDNs consisted of problems with exhausts, lights, seating and bodywork. More seriously, four of the 57 were taken from the road after it was decided they were unfit to drive. In total, 330 private hire taxis were inspected – 98 of which were given VDNs and 22 forced to stop operating as nearly 40% were found to be faulty.

George Halsall, of the North Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, expressed his concern over the amount of vehicles that were forced to be taken off the borough’s roads. He did, however, urge caution over interpreting the amount of cars given VDNs, revealing deficiencies included minor faults such as broken bulbs on lights inside the cars and scratches more than an inch long.

Mr Halsall said: “I think quite a lot of the vehicle checks were minor defaults, such as bulbs out. “What worries me is how many stop notices there are because they are real big issues. Whereas the defects can happen anytime, most drivers that I know do check their vehicles daily.”

Mr Halsall hailed the figures as representative of progress in improving the standard of taxi safety on our roads. He said: “Because we have extra teams the council are stepping up their checks on the vehicles, which is good.”

With trade expected to rise over the festive period Mr Halsall urged party-goers not to get into private hire taxis unless they are pre-booked, otherwise the passengers are not insured in the case of an accident.


Taxi checks in Reddich uncover safety concerns

AN UNDERCOVER operation has revealed a series of safety breaches among some taxis.

Licensing enforcement officers from Worcestershire Regulatory Services, acting on behalf of Redditch Borough Council, carried out spot-checks in the town last Friday (December 2) along with police and officials from VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency).

In total 24 random vehicles were checked and seven drivers were issued with prohibition notices, banning further use of the vehicle, after being found in breach of safety standards. Some problems were serious enough to need a new MOT and problems unearthed included bald or flat tyres, fuel leaks, excessive smoke emissions and lights not working.

A number of minor faults were also discovered such as roof lights which did not work, incorrect signage or plates being displayed incorrectly and drivers now have to show they have had the faults repaired to be able to continue to operate.

Mark Kay, licensing manager for Worcestershire Regulatory Services, said the majority of taxis on Redditch roads were legal and safe and the operation had been welcomed by the taxi trade.

“Licensed Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles play an important role in Redditch, especially in relation to the night time economy, but we need to send out a clear message we will not tolerate any breaches of licensing conditions that could have a negative impact on public safety,” he said.

Coun Juliet Brunner, responsible for community safety on the council and who accompanied officials on the operation, added: “Paying customers have a right to expect a safe and comfortable journey, but they are not always best placed to check the condition of a vehicle before getting in to it, particularly at the end of a long night out.

“We have a duty to ensure our taxis are operating within the law and with due regard to the safety and comfort of passengers, and there can be no compromise when it comes to the safety of the travelling public.”


Taxi spot-checks in Colne show major improvement           

PENDLE Council carried out on-the-spot safety checks on 23 taxis in Colne on Friday, November 25th.

They worked with the police and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency to ensure vehicles were roadworthy and had the correct signs, licence plates and road tax.

They also checked drivers were licensed and had their ID badges.

Five taxis had to be taken off the road due to minor faults, but all were fixed and back on the road the next day.

Coun. Pauline McCormick, chairman of the Taxi Licensing Committee, said: “The number of taxis failing the test was a major improvement compared with previous spot checks.

“I hope this continues into the New Year when we will continue to work with the police and VOSA carrying out random checks on vehicles.

“If you want to report a taxi you think may have defects, get in touch with our taxi licensing team who will look into it.

“You might also want to tell them about a good service you’ve had from a Pendle taxi firm.”

You can contact the taxi licensing team on 661638 or e-mail www.taxi.licensing@pendle.gov.uk.


Danger taxis taken off Coventry roads in police crackdown

MORE than half of the taxis checked by police during a night-time crackdown  in Coventry were found to be defective – including eight which were thought to  be so dangerous they were immediately taken off the roads.

Dangerous tyres, insecure disabled ramps, corrosion and defective lights were  among the faults found by officers in the city on Friday. The operation, which  was prompted by complaints from the public, ran between 6.30pm and 11.30pm.

In total 43 taxis – without passengers – were stopped and escorted by police  motorcyclists to a testing site in Foleshill Road.

The vehicles were examined by officers from Vehicle and Operator Services  Agency (VOSA) to check drivers were adhering to their taxi licences.

Drivers were also spoken to by taxi enforcement officers, benefits  investigation officers made checks to ensure drivers were only claiming for the  benefits they were entitled to and Revenue and Customs officers tested the  drivers fuel tanks  to ensure they were running on the correct type of fuel.

The taxis tested were licensed by both Coventry City Council and Nuneaton and  Bedworth Borough Council and were both private hire cars and  black cabs.

In total 23 vehicles were found to be defective and eight of those were taken  off the roads immediately because the defects were so serious.

The drivers of those eight taxis were made the subject of a Prohibition  Notice, meaning they cannot be driven until the defect is corrected and the  vehicle undergoes a full MOT to prove it is roadworthy.

Seven fixed penalty notices were issued, carrying three penalty points and a £60 fine.

One of the drivers now faces possible court action after three out the four  tyres on his car were worn below the legal tread limit.

Another driver also faces possible court action after it was discovered he  was unlicensed, driving a car marked up as a taxi. He was also found to be  driving with incorrect insurance and driving a car in a dangerous condition, as  some of the cars’ lights were in danger of falling off.

PC Dean Wainwright, of West Midlands Police, led the operation and said there  were further checks planned for the future.

He said: “We did come across some taxi drivers who took pride in their  vehicles and had immaculate taxis.

“But more than 50 per cent of the taxis we stopped had defects.

“There is no excuse for drivers to drive around with defective tyres. People  who are paying for a taxi, rightly expect that car to be safe and  roadworthy.

Taxi checks in the city have been taking place since January 2007. A total of  879 vehicles have now been examined and 401 vehicles were found to be  defective

source: http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/

Dec 07

Kompany car firm facing rap after insurance probe by Greater Manchester Police

The Manchester City skipper owns 300 of the 900 shares in Elite Limousines VIP Protection Services, a firm who chauffeur players and officials around town.

They signed an enormous contract with disgraced City chief executive Garry Cook during his time in charge of day-to-day operations but are accused by Greater Manchester Police of failing to have their cars appropriately insured.

Mohammed Fayaz Hussain, one of Elite’s co-owners, will appear before Manchester Magistrates’ Court on December 20.

Police pulled over five Elite vehicles on the way to City’s ground for their final home Premier League game last season against Stoke on May 17.

Hussain, one of three shareholders in Elite, faces three counts of employing an unlicensed driver and five charges of using a motor vehicle without third party insurance. The Elite shareholder also faces five counts of using a private hire vehicle that was not displaying the correct plate or disc information and one count of withholding information to obtain motor insurance.

The 900 shares in the company are divided equally between Alyas Hussain, Mohammed Fayaz Hussain and Kompany.

Among their fleet, they boast a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Flying Spur, Bentley Arnage, Chrysler Limousine, Mercedes S Class, Mercedes People Carrier, Mercedes 16-seater, Hummer H2 and Lincoln Navigator.

Although City have a sponsorship deal with Jaguar/Land Rover, City players and staff often used Elite for journeys around town, while Cook used the firm to take him to his home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, if he had been out with clients and had taken drink.

some overpaid footballers

Kompany has been a director of Elite since October 14, 2010 and is named on Elite’s share register.

Elite, who who also have a contract with Manchester United, even took promotional photographs of their fleet outside the Etihad Stadium

source: Daily Mail

Dec 07

Wycombe cabbies stage strike action at council

Hackney cabbies stage strike action at council

HACKNEY taxi drivers are on strike this morning after staging a sit in at Wycombe District Council’s offices.

About 25 Hackney cab drivers marched into the council’s Queen Victoria Road HQ in High Wycombe in dispute over working and licensing arrangements.

Wycombe Private Hire Trade Association spokesman Zia Ullah said it had not been approached by the Hackney trade prior to the strike action but said the association is “sympathetic” to their cause.

The association staged a mass walk in to the council earlier this year in similar circumstances and it has not ruled out further strike action.

He said: “There wasn’t an approach to the association and we’re not actively backing it – but we share similar concerns and are certainly sympathetic to Hackney drivers.

“Our own relationship with the council is very up and down, I don’t think it will ever be easy, but following our walk in we had a number of meetings to move the relationship forward.

“We have been working together with the council and on a positive note; we are forging ahead and have outlined an action plan for the coming year, which is the way it should be for the trade, the  council and the town.

“But if there are still concerns from the Hackney trade and they make a formal approach to us [over a united strike] we would listen.”

Hackney drivers are expected to return to the town centre taxi ranks at lunchtime. Private hire firms are operating normally.

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

Dec 07

Plymouth cabbie attacked by passenger

POLICE are hunting a man who beat a 60-year-old cabbie after a wrangle over the fare.

Det Con Matt Wood said the 60-year-old hackney carriage driver had picked up a fare, possibly from the Octagon area in the early hours of Sunday.

However, when they reached Ker Street, in Devonport some time between 2am and 3am, the man insisted the driver wait as he went inside a nearby property to get cash, leaving his mobile phone as surety.

He returned to the cabbie a few minutes later and got back into the taxi but the pair became involved in an argument.

Det Con Wood said: “From what the driver is able to remember he believes he drove the car a short distance down the road, then the fare got out of the cab.

“The driver was then dragged out of the cab before being repeatedly punched and kicked to the ground.”

He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Derriford Hospital suffering from black eyes, soreness and bruising to his ribs and face, and an injury to his right wrist which will need further treatment.    He only has some memory of where he may have picked his assailant up.

Det Con Wood added: “This was just a 60-year-old man trying to earn a living, and he ends up in hospital. We are very keen to hear from anyone who may have information about the suspect.”

If you have information contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number ED/11/7316.

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

Dec 07

Audio-enabled CCTV Privacy Row Rages On

Campaign Group Big Brother Watch calls upon Oxford City Council to scrap plans to implement audio-enabled CCTV in taxis, following recent court ruling

The civil liberties organisation, Big Brother Watch, has re-issued its calls for Oxford City Council to scrap its plan to introduce CCTV audio-enabled cameras into taxicabs in the city.

The plans were due to be implemented by April 2015, but there has been fresh opposition to them in light of a recent court ruling. A judge at Southampton Crown Court stated that, “it was not reasonably necessary to install audio cameras on a permanent basis in all taxis in Southampton.” Paragraph 71 of the ruling in the case of Southampton City Council versus Kevin May stated, “The condition does not correspond to a pressing social need, is not proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and is not necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country.”

Following this judgment, the Director of Big Brother Watch, Nick Pickles, wrote to Oxford City Council, urging them to “abandon this invasive and unlawful policy without delay.” He commented, “I have written highlighting this ruling because the policy it lays out is very clear – such plans are unlawful, disproportionate and a clear violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

He went on to add that it would be “reckless for the Council to pursue such a policy, when it would clearly leave them open to legal challenges, as has been the case in Southampton. In times of spending constraints, this would needlessly put taxpayers’ money at risk.”

Oxford City Council claimed when the proposals were first made that they were concerned solely with the safety of both taxi drivers and passengers, following alleged assaults, mainly arising from arguments about fares in the city.

The Council’s plans have provoked mixed reactions amongst the student population in Oxford. One second year Geography student reflected, “Although they are run by private firms, taxis are, to a certain extent, a public entity – so if the installation of CCTV cameras increases safety, I can’t see that it’s a bad thing. What are people trying to hide?”

However, a second year Law student disagreed, saying, “It seems to me that there is little evidence to support the council’s plans; and now that this ruling has taken place in Southampton, it could set a precedent for similar cases, which might leave Oxford City Council in a tricky situation.’

A spokesman for Oxford City Council said that, in light of the developments, “We need to take the time to consider the ruling before we can make any decision regarding plans to introduce CCTV in taxis.”

source: http://www.cherwell.org/news/town/2011/12/06/privacy-row-rages-on

Dec 07

Pictures released following assault on taxi driver in Stretford, Trafford

Injuries sustained by taxi driver in Stretford

THESE are the brutal injuries a taxi driver received after he was viciously assaulted by a gang of yobs.

The 35-year-old victim was walking to his taxi on Moss Park Road, in Stretford, when he was approached by four or five men.

They launched an attack on the man that saw him fall to the ground before being kicked in the head and stamped in the face.

The group then ran off, leaving the victim with multiple fractures to his skull.

Detective Constable Emma Bentley from Stretford CID said: “This was an unprovoked and savage attack and the victim has been left with serious head and facial injuries.

“Thankfully, he is recovering but he will always remember what happened to him that night and is still unsure why he was subjected to such a horrific assault.

“I would urge anyone who may have seen the incident take place or may have heard someone boast about being part of an attack to contact police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information about the incident, which happened at about 8.30pm on November 18, should phone police on 0161 856 7652 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555  111.

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

Dec 07

Northwich taxi driver pleads guilty to fraud

A PART-TIME taxi driver committed a ‘sophisticated’ act of fraud by swapping the number plates, tax disc and Hackney Cab licence plate of an unroadworthy car onto another vehicle

Mark Garside, 45, of Peter Street, in Northwich, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by false representation by ‘cloning’ a vehicle to use as a Hackney Cab, at Chester Crown Court, on Friday.

The court heard that in September 2010, Garside had bought an S-registered Ford Galaxy car from Wincham-based Club Class Travel, which was deemed to be in an unroadworthy condition.

Earlier this year, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) ruled that all Hackney cabs needed to be specially adapted to carry wheelchair passengers in order to gain an operating licence.

Prosecuting, Sue Gibson, said that the defendant changed the identity of the S-registered car by buying a V-registered Ford Galaxy as a ‘donor’ and then proceeded to swap the number plate, taxi  disc and Hackney licence plate from the S-registered car to the V-registered vehicle.

Ms Gibson said: “The VIN plate had been replaced with one from the S-registered vehicle but the original chassis stamp left the true identity of this vehicle as the V-registed car, that had not  been licensed as a taxi by the council.”

She added: “Garside admits he completed an application for a Hackney Carriage licence on August 11 and admits that license was only renewed by CWAC because it believed the vehicle was the original  S-registered car that was adapted for wheelchair use, not the V-registered car that the defendant had swapped it for.”

Ms Gibson told the court that Cheshire Police officers had made enquiries about the vehicle after a CWAC licensing officer was told that the car had ‘changed in appearance’.

An officer found the Ford Galaxy in The Crescent, in Northwich, and realised it was not the originally licensed S-registered vehicle, and Garside was arrested in October 2011.

Garside had been leasing the car to fellow cabbie Mark Hughes, for a weekly sum of £80, and Ms Gibson said the defendant had secured between £800 and £1,000 from this arrangement.

Tim McArdle, defending, said the case was a ‘complicated story’.

Talking of Garside, he said: “He thought I’ll get the V-registered car and use the donor parts for the S-registered vehicle and I’ll get that on the road.

“He took the parts from the S-registered vehicle to the V-registered vehicle and put it to the test.

“The objective he achieved was to get a vehicle on the road.”

Mr McArdle added: “He did things the wrong way around and that’s why he is before the court.

“He made full admissions in interviews and he has cooperated fully with the police.”

Magistrate Hugh Jones, chair of the bench, sentenced Garside to a six month community order of 50 hours unpaid work and ordered him to pay £85 in costs, as well as ordering a deprivation of the  vehicle.

He said: “It is the view of the court that you were fully aware of what you were doing when you carried out this act of changing the identity of the vehicle.”

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

Dec 07

Taxi driver injured in attack denied compensation because he defended himself

A TAXI driver who has been left permanently disfigured after a teenager bit off his ear will not get any criminal injury compensation – because he defended himself during the attack.

Trevor Blyth, 52, of Manor Avenue, Grimsby, says he has “lost faith” in the justice system after the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) ruled he was not eligible.


Mr Blyth made his claim after Luke Donner bit off his ear and smashed his taxi window in Somerfield car park, Grimsby, last   February.

The 17-year-old shouted at Mr Blyth, who replied with an offensive gesture, and then Donner smashed the taxi’s window, which shattered glass over an elderly passenger.

Mr Blyth got out of his taxi to confront him, as reported, grabbing Donner by his clothing. Donner then bit off his ear.

The teenager, of Ings Lane, Immingham, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

The CICA ruled that Mr Blyth getting out of the car was an “antagonising” feature and rejected the claim.

He said: “I am so angry about it. It has made me feel like I was in the wrong, when all I was doing was defending myself and passenger. I have lost faith in the system.

“When someone puts a fist through your car windscreen and shatters glass all over you and the passenger, what are you supposed to do? I don’t believe anyone would sit there and do nothing.

“They have made me feel like it is my fault I was attacked.”

Criminal injury compensation is funded  by the Government and is paid to victims who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the “blameless victim of a violent crime”.

They pay out anything between £1,000 to £500,000, but can refuse claim if the claimant has a criminal record or if their behaviour before, during or after the incident was deemed a factor in the incident.

Mr Blyth plans to appeal the decision, not only because of the physical injury, but because he lost £3,500 in wages as he could not work for weeks. As a result, he is in debt and wanted to use the compensation to pay it.

As reported, he underwent two major operations to reconstruct his ear, and is contemplating further surgery.

He said: “When Donner was jailed, all I wanted was to move forward with my life, but this means I can’t.

“The money is Government-funded and I have worked all my life, but now they are refusing me money that I thought I was entitled to. I needed the money to get back on my feet.

“I am working all hours just to make ends meet and try to buy my daughter a Christmas present.

“I am living with a permanent disfigurement. I have to watch and listen when people are in the back of my taxi. They point at it and talk about what might have happened. I would rather them just ask me.

“Before the attack I quite liked taxi driving, but now I hate it. I just have no choice but to do it. It has changed my whole outlook on everything.”

A CICA spokesperson said: “We express our sympathy to all victims of crime and their families.

“We consider all available evidence in reaching our decisions, including relevant witness statements and, where appropriate, what was said in court. If the evidence shows the victim’s behaviour contributed significantly to the incident they were injured in then we have to take that into account.

“To ensure our application of the scheme is as robust as possible there are safeguards built in. If any applicant does not think their case was assessed fairly they may apply to have it reviewed. If they remain unhappy after the review they can appeal to an independent tribunal.”

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

Dec 07

Women hurt in Carlisle taxi rank rage attacks

Two women have become victims of taxi queue rage as they were  dragged from cabs late at night by other people on nights out, say police.

An investigation is   underway to catch the culprits after the two disturbing but unrelated incidents happened within a few hours on a single night in Carlisle city centre.

Both attacks happened at on or near to the city centre taxi rank in Portland Place.

In the first incident  a 38-year-old woman was pulled from her taxi at around 1.30am by a group of three people – one male and two females.

A police spokeswoman said: “This lady was pushed, kicked and punched   and as a result she banged her head.

“She was left with a sore head and a sore leg. She was taken to hospital for a check-up but was discharged without being kept in overnight.”

The second incident happened between 3am and 3.30am on the same night, Sunday, November 27, and in the same area. In this incident,   a woman aged 30  was  pulled from a taxi, this time by a  woman.

She was pushed to the ground  and was left very shaken and  suffering from a sore shoulder.

The spokeswoman said: “We have to stress that this kind of incident is extremely rare in Cumbria  but we are treating them seriously and would like to hear from anybody who can help our inquiries.”

“This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The woman responsible for the second incident was described as being   slim  and with dark hair.

She was wearing a blue top and was approximately 5ft 5in. There was no description of the group responsible for the first attack.

It is not known where those responsible had been on the night in question  but the rank is near to the Wall nightclub and the Border Rambler.


source: http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/

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