Undercover ‘mystery shoppers’ to ensure legal taxis in Nottingham

Nottingham City Council’s taxi licensing team is getting ready for Christmas. The team, which oversees the 2,500 taxis licensed in Nottingham city, will be carrying out mystery shopper taxi journeys over the next few weeks.

They will be making sure that taxi drivers in the city obey the rules, and asking members of the public who are travelling by taxi to tell them when they have problems with their taxi journey too.

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Some of the top issues the team will be looking for are:

  • Overcharging – for example hackney cabs that quote a fixed price for a journey when legally, a hackney cab must be on the meter within the Nottingham city boundary
  • Customer service
  • Vehicle roadworthiness – such as not having road tax or insurance, or having faulty tyres, lights or seatbelts and also including vehicle cleanliness
  • Illegal plying for hire – only hackney cabs can legally ply for hire on the streets (such as in a rank or by having their ‘for hire’ light on
  • Illegal ranking / parking– taxis congregating in bus lanes or otherwise parking illegally.
    In addition to the mystery shoppers, the licensing team’s four Taxi Officers are out on the streets of Nottingham nightly between 8pm and 6am giving taxi passengers advice, and checking for issues.
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Nottingham City Council’s taxi licensing team has received 190 complaints so far during 2018. An officer from the taxi licensing team speaks to the driver in each case – the action taken will depend on their past behaviour. Taxi drivers who continue to flout the rules will receive a written warning and then have their licence revoked.

Certain offences mean an automatic review of the driver’s licence, including illegally plying for hire. The team work closely with Nottinghamshire Police so that if a driver is convicted of a serious crime, their taxi license is cancelled.

Passengers and visitors can also be reassured that Nottingham’s licensing team insist on a full enhanced DBS check for all drivers, as well as testing their knowledge of the highway code and Nottingham geography before their licence is approved.

John Davis worked for the Police for thirty years before joining Nottingham City Council to manage the Taxi Licensing Team. John said “The majority of taxi drivers in Nottingham provide a fantastic service – but as the regulating authority, we are here to deal with those that flout the rules.

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“Passengers should always ensure they only use properly licensed taxis or pre-book private hire vehicles – and always check to see the taxi plates displayed before you get in. If you have an issue, take a picture of the driver’s badge or licence plates so that we can identify them.”

Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder “We know that there’s an increase in taxi use over the festive season as people sensibly opt not to drive if they are planning on having a drink. All year round, our licensing team are cracking down on drivers who are flouting the law, with a push ahead of Christmas to give people extra piece of mind. We are on the side of those drivers who play by the rules, and are determined to make the playing field as level as it can be.

“There are a very small minority who give other drivers a bad name – Nottingham City Council is committed to taking action, sending the clear message that it is not acceptable. We want everyone to get home safely and to be given a good quality service by taxi drivers.”