Agenda item

Review of a Private Hire Driver's Licence


The applicant advised that he had brought a friend to accompany him but not to represent him.  


The Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer outlined the circumstances as set out in the report. He explained that the applicant had first been issued with a Private hire Driver’s Licence on 30 January 2019. On 9 November 2019 Northampton Borough Council’s Licensing Department undertook a multi-agency check alongside the DVLA and Northamptonshire Police.  The Applicant was pulled over by the Police and at first he ignored them. The officers sounded their vehicle horn and eventually attracted the Applicant’s attention.  He then drove to the check site, the officers following close behind.  The officers noted that the Applicant was driving without his headlights on and he drove most of the journey at approximately 20 mph, causing traffic disruption. A Police Officer provided an account of the journey and reported the Applicant for driving without due car and attention. The Applicant’s vehicle was examined by DVLA staff and was deemed to comply with the Construction and use Regulations however, during the licensing inspection it was noticed that the Applicant was not displaying the vehicle plate securely to the rear of the vehicle.  A written caution was issued for this offence. The Applicant was asked to provide his private hire drivers badge whilst his documentation was being checked.  He responded by saying that he did not have his badge with him.  The Licensing Officer then explained to the Applicant that the vehicle licence would have to be suspended as he could not demonstrate to officers and passengers that he was a licensed private hire driver.  The Applicant then provided a copy of his private hire driver’s badge.  The Applicant was informed that he would be reported for providing a false identification document.  The Applicant’s vehicle licence was suspended for not providing a legitimate private hire drivers badge.   The Applicant has not been brought to the attention of the Licensing Department prior to this incident.


Due to the nature of the offences, the Applicant was informed that his application would be referred to the Licensing Committee.


The Applicant explained that on the night in question he was sleeping in his car.  He had been sleeping as he had been working since around 3.00 p.m.  He heard a car horn and realised it was the police when he woke up.  As he had been sleeping he was tired and did not put the headlights on, but he did when the police told him to.  It was dark, so he drove slowly to be safe.  He saw the light from the driving lights so thought the headlights were on.  On the night he signed the police report but he only did it to get rid of them.  He had to pay a £90.00 fee and attend a 3 hour road safety course.   He had made a copy of his badge since his car had been broken into 3 times.  Other documents had been taken from his vehicle, such as his wallet and his driving licence. The Applicant said that there was no space for the plate on the rear.  He has now got a plastic holder for the plate so he can attach it.  


In response to questions asked by Members of the Committee the Applicant  stated that he had been working however, at the time the police approached him he was sleeping.  Drivers are allowed to have a break during their shift and it is up to them when they finish.  He was due to continued working after his sleep.  He agreed that he was not alert after his sleep and that he could have been carrying a passenger instead of following the police. He was waiting for a fare to be allocated to him by his Private Hire Operator.  He had driven cautiously as the police were behind him. He is a heavy sleeper and takes blood pressure tablets. The lights on his dashboard had come on so he believed that his headlights were on.  It was around 9.30 p.m. when the incident occurred.

The copied Private Hire badge was provided to the Committee.


The Solicitor explained to Members their options and the relevant test to be applied; whether the applicant was deemed to be a “fit and proper person” to hold a licence as a Private Hire Driver and the relevant provisions of the Council’s policy on convictions. That the case of McCool v Rushcliffe is relevant in determining whether the Applicant is  ‘a fit and proper person’ to hold a private hire driver’s licence. By signing and accepting a caution the Applicant has accepted that he committed the offence of driving without due care and attention so this is to be taken as fact.   Section 54(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states that the driver must wear the badge issued to them by the Council and that failure to do so is an offence. In addition,

Section 48 of the 1976 Act required that the plate for the vehicle is fixed to the vehicle at all times when in use as a private hire vehicle and it is an offence to fail to do so.


Members retired at 19:42 hours to make a decision.


The meeting reconvened at 20:05 hours




The Committee carefully considered the information in the report, the representations made by the Applicant at the hearing and the responses to the questions asked of him.


The Committee made the following findings:


A.   There is a risk to the public where a vehicle is driven without due care and attention.  There is the potential to cause serious harm if a vehicle is driven in that way.  Had the police not requested that he followed them to the check site it could have been that he drove in that manner with a member of the public in the vehicle.  It appears that at the time the presence of the police car acted to alert other drivers and possibly avoided a collision.

B.   He had been uncooperative with police and argued with them however, he eventually conceded that he had driven inappropriately.  

C.   The reason that the plate should be displayed is to ensure that the public are aware that the vehicle is licensed and that it can be identified as such if there are any problems.

D.   Similarly the driver’s badge should be warn or displayed whilst working so that he can be identified as a driver.  The Council issued badge clearly identifies him as a licensed driver however, his copied badge is not so clear. 

E.   He should be aware that in addition to the breach of the 1976 Act it is also possible that copying the badge could have amounted to other offences. 

F.    Put together there were a large number of breaches in one short period of time on one night and this causes serious concerns as to the level of risk caused to the public; demonstrating that a period of suspension is necessary in order to reflect those concerns.

Accordingly, the Committee SUSPENDS the Applicant’s Private Hire Driver’s Licence for a period of 6 (six) weeks.