A private hire driver and his operator have
both been fined £715 each after illegally picking up plain clothed
police officers in Peterborough city centre during a joint
operation between Peterborough City Council's Licensing Team and
The operation targeted a takeaway
establishment in Fitzwilliam Street which is owned by Mr Asghar
Ali, who is also the operator of City Cars, a private hire company
based in Peterborough.
It was suspected that staff at the takeaway
along with its sister company City Cars, were illegally pushing for
private hire services and dispatching private hire vehicles to
illegally ‘rank’ outside the takeaway without genuine bookings.
At Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday
19 June 2012 Azur Hussain (31) of Taverners Road pleaded guilty to
unlawfully plying for hire and to having no insurance and was fined
£500, ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. He was
also issued with eight points on his licence for the offence of
The court heard that Hussain attracted the
officer's attention by waving them over and despite telling him
twice that they had not booked the journey, he agreed to take them
to Herlington, Orton Malborne. On reaching the destination the
officers identified themselves and were met at the location by
members of the city council’s Licensing Team.
During the investigation, officers also
discovered that the operator of City Cars, Asghar Ali was failing
to keep records in accordance with his licence conditions. Mr Ali
pleaded guilty plea to the record keeping offence. He was fined
£500 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
A decision will now be made by the city
council’s Licensing Team concerning their licences.
It is illegal for any person to tout or
solicit the public on behalf of any private hire vehicle. Any
private hire driver picking up a member of the public without a
booking automatically invalidates their insurance. Should an
accident occur, the person would not be insured for that particular
In addition, if a private hire driver picks up
without a booking, there is no record of the journey taking place.
If an incident occurs, such as an indecent or violent assault and
the passenger is unable to identify the plate number, police would
have great difficulty identifying the driver or vehicle involved.
Likewise, if a driver is assaulted, police would encounter
difficulties establishing passenger details.
Adrian Day, Licensing Manager for Peterborough
City Council, said: "The law makes a clear distinction between a
Hackney Carriage - a London cab - that can be hailed in the street
and private hire cars that must be pre-booked.
"These joint operations attempt to prevent
drivers acting unlawfully and assist in educating the trade and
public of the dangers of unlawfully plying for hire. If a private
hire driver picks up without a booking, the insurance is generally
invalidated, and from a safety point of view there is no record of
the driver undertaking the journey. If a passenger or driver is
attacked the police and taxi enforcement team would have
difficulties identifying the driver, vehicle, journey or customer
"Licensing officers closely monitor the taxi
trade to protect the interest and safety of passengers and will not
hesitate to prosecute anyone touting for private hire services or
any private hire driver who is found to be unlawfully plying for
hire or 'flagging' as it is known in the trade.
"Many private hire drivers and operators carry
out their trade lawfully and condemn the few that bring the trade
into disrepute. People who wish to use a private hire vehicle must
pre-book the vehicle with the private hire company, not the driver
or anyone else, to ensure they are legally covered."