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90 licences given to taxi drivers with convictions; WHAT DO YOU THINK? EMAIL ECLETTERS@ WALESONLINE.CO.UK.

Byline: huw silk Reporter huw.silk@walesonline.co.uk

DOZENS of taxi licences have been issued by Cardiff council over the past few years to applicants who have criminal records.

A total of 90 applications containing a criminal conviction were approved by the authority's public protection subcommittee between January 2012 and September of this year.

The data, released after a freedom of information request, revealed that just over 1,000 people applied for a hackney carriage or private hire licence during that period, with 176 of those listing convictions which were considered by the subcommittee. It is not known what any of those convictions was for.

Councils have strict policies that govern whether or not a licence should be granted including DBS checks - formerly known as CRB checks. Licences must also be renewed periodically.

According to separate data, meanwhile, applications made to Cardiff council for a taxi driver's licence between 2012 and 2015 included two with manslaughter convictions and 155 with assault or assault occasioning actual bodily harm convictions.

But, because these figures relate only to those who have applied for a licence, there is no suggestion these applicants were eventually granted one.

Since 2012, applications in Cardiff have also included 202 convictions of theft, 214 of driving with no insurance and 140 cases of driving while disqualified.

There were also three convictions for causing death by dangerous driving, with others for the same offence submitted to the authorities in Swansea and Flintshire. One would-be Cardiff driver had a rape conviction. Three Rhondda Cynon Taff applications included arson convictions, while one wannabe Caerphilly taxi driver had a conviction for causing death by reckless driving. A Bridgend applicant had a kidnapping conviction.

There is no evidence these drivers were given licences.

The figures were revealed following various freedom of information requests to councils around the UK submitted by the company Complete Background Screening.

Its chief executive Rachel Bedgood said: "Without DBS checks, it is impossible to know the full background of people we employ in industries including those serving the public on a daily basis and, quite frankly, the reality could be quite dangerous if we do not continue to screen employees correctly.

"I believe that additional screening should be applied to these individuals to ensure that they are suitable for the role.

"Whilst I realise that a lot of responsibility for deciding who is suitable for this job is down to local councils - and that some convictions may be extremely minor - the bottom line is we need to make sure that we are being as strict as possible to ensure that no dangerous individuals are slipping through the net."

Councils across Wales have emphasised they have robust policies in place to ensure each license holder is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

A Cardiff council spokesman added: "As well as a number of other requirements in the application process, an enhanced DBS check is carried out for each new taxi driver application and every three years once licensed."

The spokesman said the policy lists offences and stipulates guidelines on how long the applicant/licence holder should be free from conviction before an application would normally be considered.

He said: "Each application is determined on its own merits and consideration is also given to the seriousness of the offence, the sentence imposed, whether there is a pattern of offending and any other factors that may be relevant."

The spokesman said: "Offences such as murder, manslaughter, culpable homicide while driving and terrorism offences would normally be refused regardless of the criteria above unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances."

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Cardiff council has granted dozens of taxi licences to drivers with criminal convictions since January 2012

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 26, 2016
Words:617
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