Council vigilance leads to fake taxi badge investigation
A council licensing team’s vigilance has led to a police investigation into fraudulent taxi licences.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s licensing team spotted a fake drivers’ badge after a scanned copy was submitted by its Buckinghamshire-based holder for checking.
On further investigation the driver had not obtained the badge from the Council and it was proved to be counterfeit. As the Council only ever issues taxi driver licences to individuals after an interview is carried out in person, the matter was immediately referred to Thames Valley Police for investigation.
During the operation, several properties were searched and Council licensing officers worked alongside police at a registered taxi office to check driver badges and car licence plates. A second fake South Cambridgeshire badge was seized as evidence, along with revoked plates from another council from outside the area.
A South Cambridgeshire vehicle plate was also seized, and a Council suspension notice issued, after police checks showed that the car no longer had the correct insurance to carry paying passengers. Plates and driver badges from a third out-of-area council were also found at the taxi office and are being investigated by the issuing authority.
Due to a judgement known as the Berwick Case, licensed taxi drivers and vehicles can work in any council area, but councils only have the authority to suspend or revoke driver and vehicle licenses which have been directly issued by them.
Cllr Mark Howell, cabinet member with responsibility for licensing, said: “I’d like to praise the hawkeyed officers who spotted the fake badge and set this investigation’s wheels into motion. Keeping the public safe wherever they are is our number one priority, and we will continue to support both the police and other councils involved in this case with their enquiries.
“We carry out frequent spot checks in our area, and the vast majority of drivers are hardworking people offering an excellent service. However, we would urge anyone with concerns about a driver or vehicle to get in touch. We’re also calling for improved national licensing guidelines and a national database, and are lobbying through our local MPs for action.”
The Council’s register of licensed taxi operators, drivers and vehicles is publicly available