A local man has lost an appeal against his conviction for acting as a driver of a private hire vehicle without having a private hire licence at Kingston Crown Court on Friday 15 June 2018.
Mr Mohammed Cass Zaman was convicted at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 17 January 2018. Mr M C Zaman was fined £300 for acting as a private hire driver without a licence, £500 for using a vehicle with no insurance in relation to its use as a private hire vehicle, as well as eight penalty points on his drivers’ licence, a victim surcharge of £50 and ordered to pay the Council’s legal costs of £1,815. A total of £2,665.
Following his conviction in the Magistrates’ Court, Mr M C Zaman lodged an appeal. The appeal was dismissed by Kingston Crown Court on 15 June 2018. As a result, a further £1,965 in costs was awarded to the Council.
Council Officers became aware of a private taxi hire company, known as Brookwood Station Cars, which they believed was operating without a valid operator licence (the operator was successfully prosecuted at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 17 January 2018).
On 28 March 2017, Licensing Officers conducted a mystery shopper exercise and ordered a taxi through Brookwood Station Cars. Mr M C Zaman arrived at the arranged pick-up point and confirmed the booking.
Mr M C Zaman did not hold a valid private hire driver’s licence and the vehicle used was not insured as a private hire vehicle.
Cllr Ashley Bowes, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Licensing, said: “Licensed taxi and private hire drivers are in a position of responsibility and go through specific licensing processes to ensure they and their vehicles meet the highest standards set by the licensing authority.
“The majority of taxi drivers in the Borough work hard to operate legally and offer a safe, effective and professional service to passengers. However, Mr Zaman felt that these principles did not apply to him and that he was seemingly above the law. He risked the safety of unwitting fee paying passengers for his own benefit. Not only this, he had the audacity to challenge his conviction, which he subsequently lost, incurring further personal costs.
“Members of the public can always tell a licensed cab by the taxi sign on the roof or license plates in the front windscreen and on the rear bumper, along with the age, and state of repair of the vehicle. Other clues are if the driver doesn’t seem to know the area or refuses to tell you the approximate cost of the journey.”
Woking Borough Council recently introduced changes to the current taxi and private hire licensing policy that will help prevent the sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.
The changes have seen the introduction of mandatory Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) training for new and existing taxi and private hire drivers that will enable them to spot the signs of CSE and know how to report it. A new Surrey-wide approach to the licensing of drivers with convictions was also introduced that will remove the risk of a driver being refused or revoked by one local authority, but potentially accepted by another.
Existing and new drivers will also be required to pass a BTEC Level 2 Certificate Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver qualification. This will ensure that taxi and private hire drivers in the Borough meet the highest possible professional standards and deliver outstanding service.
For more information about taxi licensing, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/taxilicensing