Violence and drugs crimes on Edinburgh private hire drivers’ records

85 licences were granted to private hire drivers with criminal convictions
85 licences were granted to private hire drivers with criminal convictions
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CRIMES committed by the Capital’s private hire drivers include assault, drink driving and drugs, the Evening News can reveal.

The breakdown of specific convictions follows the revelation that one in four drivers granted a licence had a criminal prosecution.

More than three-quarters of the convictions were for road traffic offences – 113 from 145 – while industry insiders hailed current vetting procedures.

“Visitors to Edinburgh and residents need to feel safe and secure getting into a private hire car,” said Edinburgh Private Hire Drivers Association vice-chairman, Kevin Rafferty.

“A member of the public has to have trust in the council and police that procedures are robust enough to make sure this happens.

“We need to trust in their procedures. That they’re fit and robust and open to scrutiny – that they can make that decision, which they obviously have.”

There were 85 licences granted to drivers with criminal convictions, including spent convictions, between July and September last year, out of 354 applications.

“Obviously they’ve looked at these 85 and said ‘yes, they can work as private hire drivers in the city of Edinburgh,’” said Mr Rafferty.

Figures released by the city council revealed there were eight assault convictions, five for supply or possession of drugs, four for drink driving and two for driving while banned.

There were three convictions each for driving without insurance, fraud and breach of the peace – while one each for theft, malicious damage, no MOT and failing to pay for a taxi.

“Assault covers such a huge spectrum,” said Mr Rafferty. “Pushing someone is assault, putting your hands on someone is assault.

“On first reading, it does look like quite an array of different offences from minor to the not so minor, drink driving, etcetera.

“They’re not broken down so we don’t know how many under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act are technically spent convictions – these could be ten or 15 years old.”

Spent convictions can go undeclared by offenders but will still show up on criminal records checks for jobs dealing with the public, said Mr Rafferty. “They still come up, which is good,” he added. “Someone convicted of drink driving three times in spent convictions is still being examined and checked that they’re a fit and proper person to hold a private hire licence.”

City licensing sub-committee convener, Councillor Cathy Fullerton, said 30 “not fit and proper” applications were turned down during the same period.

“We take criminal convictions extremely seriously when considering taxi and private hire driver licence applications, we carefully weigh up the circumstances of previous convictions so the council can be satisfied that drivers are ‘fit and proper’,” added Cllr 
Fullerton.

“Police Scotland are asked to comment on any application received before consideration by the council, as licensing authority. In most cases, previous convictions are either historic or have been determined to be minor in nature.”