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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Cab idea sparks sex attack concern from Cumbria police commissioner

CUMBRIA’S police commissioner fears an increase in sex attacks if plans are approved to allow minicab owners to lend their vehicles out to anyone.

Richard Rhodes, police and crime commissioner, is among 19 PCCs to raise concerns about a lack of regulation on who is driving taxis in our community.

Now only licensed private hire drivers can drive a marked private hire vehicle, drivers have to be regularly re-licensed and there are restrictions on vehicles operating across local authority boundaries.

Under the Deregulation Bill, the rules are to be swept away, opening up the prospect of a private hire free-for-all, crime commissioners say, with anyone allowed to drive a private hire vehicle for their own use when the registered driver is not using the car.

Mr Rhodes said: “To me this poses the potential of a threat.

“The issue here is around non-regulated drivers being able to use licensed private hire vehicles.

“If you’re standing in the street in Barrow who is driving it?

“We do not know. In Cumbria we can and do see cabbies coming from outside bringing people in on holiday, people arrive in Cumbria in cabs and we know that’s happening already.

“We don’t want to run the risk of unregulated taxis coming into the area. We’ve seen in Greater Manchester women being sexually assaulted and rapes committed by unlicensed drivers.”

A document from the Metropolitan Police on unlicensed minicabs operating in south London, in 2011, linked unlicensed minicabs touting for business late at night to numerous sexual assaults on lone vulnerable females with between 200 to 250 cases sexual assaults reported in the capital each year.

Mr Rhodes said he believed some unlicensed drivers may see the risk of committing offences outside their area, including in Barrow and wider Cumbria, as lower.

The planned changes will apply to England and Wales and the Department of Transport says it will mean the rest of the country is brought into line with rules in London.

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