Zoom Backs Safety Campaign Launched in Parliament

Zoom.taxi have welcomed the campaign by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to make the licensing criteria for private hire vehicles more stringent and uniform across the country.

Fareed Baloch, chief operating officer of Zoom which works with PHV companies across the world but predominantly in the UK, said “deregulation of the industry must not come at the expense of safety.”

“Deregulation of the minicab industry was championed as a way of opening up the market to lower costs by increasing competition. And whilst lower prices and high employment are good for an economy, the role of the government is to step in to correct market failures,” he said.

And he added that tougher rules which used to be standard in order to qualify for a license could help the reputation of the industry.

“One of the most alarming trend of a deregulated taxi environment is the rate at which safety of passengers declines,” he said.

“Due to the lowering of barriers to entry because of the Deregulation Act 2015 we have seen an influx of untrained drivers with insufficient background checks. The newspapers regularly feature stories of rapes and attacks far outweighing the ‘good news’ stories featuring the community spirited local cabbie which we all took pride in. I believe this deregulation and the ability for licenses to be granted without the rigorous testing which we previously had has led to a variety of alarming incidents, including sexual assaults, kidnappings, and physical altercations.”

“One of the first moves was the increase in the duration of licenses from 12 months to 36 months. DBS checks are a requirement before a license is handed out, however some have raised concerns that the the length of time between checks is now too long. The proposals by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for more regular checks would be beneficial to everyone.

“I believe we also need better background checks for drivers. We should move to a model like the United States where minicab companies are required to use ‘Live Scan’, a fingerprint-based background check of drivers. Because drivers are in a position of power when someone gets in their vehicle there should be that extra level of safety for passengers. The UK can regulate such checks using IDENT1 – our national fingerprint database: the systems are already there, what we need is the political will for it to happen.

“I, and many others in the industry, also support a national minimum standard to stop the ‘race to the bottom’ by licensing authorities particularly with the rules which allow PHV drivers to operate across the whole of England and Wales. It’s quite possible that, not only can drivers be sub-contracted across neighbouring areas, drivers from further afield can be brought in for certain bookings. This means that people can book a car through a service whose license was given by an authority that has rigorous checking procedures but the car they are sent is subcontracted from a completely different area and could just have filled in a form online. There is no obligation for the hirer to be made aware of this, something we think should change.”

The report by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust can be found here

Read the full article on safety and deregulation here

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