Investigation reveals more convicted criminals driving our taxis
PEOPLE with criminal convictions for serious crimes including abduction, underage sex and battery have been granted licences to drive taxis in Comet country. Following an investigation launched by The Comet in 2006, which revealed people with serious crim
PEOPLE with criminal convictions for serious crimes including abduction, underage sex and battery have been granted licences to drive taxis in Comet country.
Following an investigation launched by The Comet in 2006, which revealed people with serious criminal convictions were driving taxis in the area, the paper has again used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to current drivers' criminal records.
New information from Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) has highlighted a number of serious offences which were not disclosed three years ago.
These include one offence of abducting a girl under the age of 18, two of sex with a girl under the age of 16, and one of battery. The drivers with these convictions are all current private hire drivers in Stevenage, who can be sent to your home.
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Of the 198 private hire drivers in Stevenage, 39 have criminal convictions.
Also undisclosed by SBC three years ago was one offence of cruelty to a young person, one of aggravated burglary and assault, and one of possession of a prohibited weapon.
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The private hire drivers have racked up 44 driving offences between them, including one of death by reckless driving, three of drink-driving, six of driving while disqualified and seven of using a vehicle while uninsured.
A total of 31 out of 140 drivers with a hackney carriage licence in Stevenage have criminal convictions - more than triple the number disclosed in 2006.
Convictions not declared in 2006 include one of wounding, one of assault with intent to rob, and one of possessing a prohibited weapon.
Drivers with hackney carriage licences in Stevenage have racked up 33 driving offences between them, including three of driving without due care and attention, two of drink driving and six of driving while disqualified.
One criminal conviction dates back to 1959, with the most recent in 2007.
A spokesman for SBC said: "There is a wider range of offences for drivers with convictions when compared to the response of 2006 as a result of policy implementation and better monitoring of driver history by the licensing team.
"Wherever we have discovered convictions, we have carefully reviewed that application/licence in line with our policy and taken appropriate steps to ensure the individual is 'fit and proper' as required by taxi licensing legislation. If an individual is found 'unfit', their licence is revoked or the application is refused."
In Mid Beds, almost 90 per cent - 40 out of 45 - drivers with hackney carriage licences have convictions.
Of the 10 drivers with private hire licences, three have convictions.
All convictions disclosed by Central Bedfordshire Council are for driving offences and include speeding, using a phone while driving, and failing to comply with traffic lights and signs.
Driving offences in 2006, for both private hire and hackney carriage drivers in Mid Beds, totalled 105.
In 2006, North Herts District Council (NHDC) said "no details are kept on the individual files". This is still the case in 2009. A spokesman for NHDC said: "We are still operating the same way - we do not retain the CRB checks on file for taxi drivers."
The Comet asked Andy Gearing, a Transport and General Workers Union representative, to ask if would like to make a statement on behalf of the taxi drivers, but he said: "I'd rather wait to see what you print before I make any comment.