Suzy Lamplugh Trust is disappointed and concerned to learn that despite the Government’s commitment in February 2019 to legislate for national standards for taxi and private hire vehicle licensing to improve safety for passengers, the Government now plans only to issue statutory guidance. In a statement to the Transport Select Committee[i] on 16th October, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, confirmed that that the Government no longer plans to legislate, despite clear recommendations to do so by the Ministerial Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing in its report. In its response to the report the government clearly stated: ‘that there should be national minimum standards for taxi and PHV licensing, and [we] will take forward legislation when time allows to enable these.’[ii] The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group, Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, points out in his forward to the report that undue delay to create the legislation required ’would risk public safety.’[iii]

Suzy Lamplugh Trust therefore urges the Secretary of State to urgently reconsider the government’s decision. Our research shows that while there are guidelines currently in place to help licensing authorities determine whether drivers pose a risk to passengers and therefore should not be granted a licence, these are often not upheld, are interpreted differently and are not legally enforceable.

We have continuously campaigned to improve personal safety in taxi and private hire driver licensing. We hope that legislating for national minimum standards for licensing taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will overcome the current inconsistencies between policies developed by individual licensing authorities across England and Wales. Passengers need to be assured that wherever they get into a licensed vehicle, and whoever the operator or licensing authority is, drivers have been vetted to the highest possible safety standards in order to protect passenger safety.