Sticking with safety

Council signposts passengers on how to avoid plying-for-hire pitfall

WANT to know how to make your journey as safe as possible?

Then just follow the signs.

Safety conscious licensing officers with Liverpool City Council have introduced a new tool in the continuing challenge to make the public aware of the pitfalls of plying for hire.

It’s a magnetic sign that is clearly visible on the side of private hire cars urging the public to always pre-book their journeys.

The term plying for hire refers to the practice of private hire drivers picking up passengers on the street without the journey being booked in advance. Plying for hire is illegal and anyone who gets into a private hire vehicle without it being pre-booked will not be insured for the journey.

Over the past year the city council’s licensing team has been involved in an ongoing operation to ensure private hire drivers are doing their bit not to pick up fares on the street.

Officers have been out posing as passengers to see if drivers will pick them up without an advance booking. And where they have found evidence of wrongdoing, the team has taken tough action.

In one recent example from June a private hire driver from Liverpool was ordered to pay nearly £1,000 in fines and costs, given six penalty points and subsequently disqualified from driving after being caught plying for hire. Whilst in the same month a Knowsley driver was ordered to pay £712 and given eight penalty points after being found plying for hire in the city. The total number of drivers prosecuted for plying for hire in the past 12 months stands at 27.

Now the team has turned its attention to the passengers with an awareness-raising campaign that sends the simple message: No booking, No insurance, No journey.

The message will be displayed on colourful Liverpool purple magnetic stickers that are currently being sent to every private hire driver in the city.

The stickers, which feature prominently in the cars, also include details of how passengers can contact the Licensing Team to register a complaint or make a comment.

The move is being back by many of the city’s private hire operators, including one of Liverpool’s biggest firms, Alpha.

Alpha operations manager Liam Sweeney, said: “We’re really pleased to support this council initiative. All our drivers are aware that they cannot pick people up off the street unless the journey has been booked in advance but the public has a part to play in this as well. It can sometimes be awkward for our drivers if they have to refuse someone who approaches them on the street so these signs will help to spell out to everyone what we can and cannot do.”

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr James Noakes, said: “When you take a private hire journey that isn’t pre-booked, you are not insured for the journey. If there is an accident and you are injured you may not be covered. Also, there will be no formal record of the journey, making it difficult for the police or the council to trace.

“We are fortunate in Liverpool that the vast majority of private hire drivers play by the rules. For those who do not, we have shown that we will take action.

“Members of the public who use private hire cars also have a responsibility to make sure they have booked the journey in advance. Our new signs get this message across in a simple and effective way. We are grateful that so many of the city’s private hire drivers will be using them.”

  • For more information about licensing issues in Liverpool, click here.
Liverpool Waterfront