Private hire drivers who illegally pick up passengers in the street are to be targeted by mystery passengers.
The Evening Times reports that members of the city council’s licensing committee unanimously backed the scheme, which is supported by the police. Council bosses say there is substantial evidence that some drivers are picking up people who flag them down creating a “significant risk to public safety”.
There is also considerable evidence that drivers who pirate for fares overcharge passengers, sometimes four times more than the proper rate.
In the first six months of this year, over half the complaints about private hire drivers which went before the licensing committee related to pirating.
In all cases, this resulted in the drivers having their licences suspended, sometimes for up to six months for repeat offenders.
Frank Docherty, chairman of the licensing committee, said he was concerned the message that pirating is unacceptable was not getting through to drivers.
He said: “Private hire drivers will now be forced to think twice about who they are letting into their car. Do pirate drivers really want to take the chance they are actually taking a trip straight to the licensing committee and months out of work.”
Mr Docherty said introducing the mystery passenger scheme would protect both passengers and the legitimate drivers who play by the rules.
Police Scotland told the committee there had been incidents involving unlicensed journeys where passengers had complained about substantial fraud and sexual assault.
Of the 36 complaints against drivers which went before councillors between January and June this year, 21 related to pirate drivers.