Tens of thousands of drivers of minibuses and stretch limousines are being allowed to get behind the wheel without facing criminal record checks, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
While taxi drivers, who are licensed by local authorities, do face scrutiny, the same rules are not applied to those with a licence to drive a Passenger Carrying Vehicle with nine passenger seats or more.
This would not apply to “people carriers” which normally have fewer seats, which means their drivers to face criminal record checks.
The anomaly means somebody who fails a CRB check to drive a minicab could still legally be hired to drive a minibus or stretch limousine.
While safeguards are in place to check drivers who are in regular contact with children and vulnerable people, they are not applied to all the 300,000 people who hold PCV licences.
Despite pressure from MPs, Norman Baker, the local transport minister, has said the Government has “no intention” of tightening the law.
In a letter to Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, he wrote that checks had to be “proportionate to the risk involved”.
He added: “We need to take into account how likely it is that people carrying out the role present a general risk to those, with whom they come into contact.
The stance puzzled Mr McDonald.
“I just don’t get it. They carry the same risk as other taxi drivers. Charities have to go through the most rigorous checks. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense.”
Steve McNamara general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. “This is a strange scenario, which seems to have just evolved.
“While people who drive private hire vehicles get a licence from local authorities and are subject to an enhanced criminal check, those who drive minibuses don’t
“It is because they have lumped all buses together. While it may not be necessary if you are driving a number 6 bus down Oxford Street, you can’t say the same sort of thing about a minibus.
“Ian Huntley could be driving one of these things if he was not locked up.
“Would you want your teenage daughter getting into a stretch-limo after a night out? Of course you wouldn’t”
Source: The Telegraph