A fake taxi driver will have to do community service after an investigation was sparked by eagle-eyed Cambridgeshire Council officers.
South Cambridge-shire District Council’s licensing team spotted the fake taxi badge after a scanned copy was submitted by Thames Valley Police for checking during a routine vehicle stop in Buckinghamshire back in February.
The council had already made Thames Valley Police aware of the possibility that a fraudulent South Cambridge-shire licence was being used in their area, due to a previous tipoff.
When licensing officers confirmed to police that the document being checked was indeed counterfeit, the driver, Mohammed Hanif from High Wycombe, was arrested.
In October, following a trial at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court, 38-year-old Hanif was found guilty of possessing an article for use in fraud, and must now carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, and pay Crown Court costs of £385.
The fake hackney carriage badge was seized and destroyed. During the investigation, several properties were searched and council officers worked with police at a registered taxi office to check driver badges and car licence plates.
A second fake South Cambridgeshire badge was seized as evidence, along with revoked plates from another council from outside the area.
A South Cambridgeshire vehicle plate was also seized, and a council suspension notice issued, after police checks showed that the car no longer had the correct insurance to carry paying passengers.
Cllr Mark Howell, the council’s cabinet member for environmental health, told the Cambridge News: “This sentence ends a year-long investigation that was sparked by the vigilance of our officers.
“We have exacting standards that drivers must meet to be granted a licence for very good reason – because keeping people safe is our priority.
“Mr Hanif was fooling his passengers who had put their trust in him and believed they were getting into a properly licensed taxi. Our officers are constantly alert to this type of deception and we carry out frequent spot checks.”
Mmmm… This extensive investigation serves as the perfect example that enforcement can be taken against a non-badge holder – i.e. a bogus driver. Too many councils have told complainants they have no powers against anybody who doesn’t hold a badge. Go tell it to South Cambs! – Ed.