Sussex PCC speaks out against taxi deregulation
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne has joined a cross-party group of commissioners campaigning against new laws governing taxis which they believe could put vulnerable passengers at risk.
Mrs Bourne said: “There is a thriving night-time economy that goes hand-in-hand with the taxi and private hire business in many of the seaside towns in Sussex.
“I value the role taxi drivers play in Sussex but the safety of everyone who uses them, regardless of age, nationality or sex, must be paramount.
“As PCC I would be very concerned if the welfare and safety of passengers was weakened by certain measures being removed from the Taxi Deregulation Bill, which is currently going through parliament.
Twenty-two commissioners have signed the petition which is led by Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd. Their concerns are backed by licensing officials, police, the taxi trade and organisations that work with victims of rape and sexual assault.
Mr Lloyd said: “Taxi regulation reform is long overdue, but this is not the way to go about it. The current system is far from perfect, but at least there are safeguards there which mean people can have confidence that when they get into a marked private hire vehicle it is genuine and being driven by a licensed operator.
“Taking these safeguards away opens the prospect of a private hire free-for-all. There will be no guarantee that a driver is who he says he is, and the inevitable consequence is that there will be an increase in people being attacked after a night out.
Mrs Bourne continued: “Currently in Sussex, only licensed private hire drivers can get behind the wheel of a marked private hire vehicle; drivers have to be regularly relicensed and there are restrictions on vehicles operating across local authority boundaries.
“However, under the Deregulation Bill, these limited safeguards may be removed, opening up the prospect of a private hire free-for-all, with no guarantees that the driver of a vehicle are who they say they are.”