Three Rivers secures Private Hire Driver Licence refusal
09th October 2019
A male applicant from Hemel Hempstead was recently refused a private hire driver licence by Three Rivers District Council after enquiries from the police revealed allegations against him of inappropriate approaches to teenage girls on three separate occasions in 2012, 2013 and 2018. The applicant, however, had never been convicted of any offence and had not been arrested over these allegations.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appealed the decision of the Lead Licensing Officer for Three Rivers District Council, Lorna Fryer, who refused to renew his licence on the basis that he was not “fit and proper” to hold a private hire driver’s licence.
During the stringent application process, individuals are required to provide enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certificates which on this occasion did not provide any evidence. However, on conducting a standard check with Hertfordshire Constabulary the Licensing Officer was made aware of inappropriate behaviour with young females on three separate occasions.
The applicant had been spoken to by police on one of those occasions, but he failed to disclose this on his application. His application was therefore refused for failing to provide all the information that was requested and the concern for public safety given the nature of the police reports.
The Council can take into account any involvement with police as this can display a pattern of behaviour of the individual. Even when the individual has not been charged or arrested and no further action is taken by police, the Council can still use this evidence in their decision making.
Drivers of private hire and hackney carriage vehicles are expected to be persons of trust and when deciding whether an individual is ‘fit and proper’ or ‘safe and suitable’, the Licensing Officers’ overriding consideration is the safety of the public.
District Judge Dodd upheld the decision of the Licensing Officer and dismissed the appeal. In summing up she stated: “The incident in 2018 may not have resulted in a police charge or prosecution, but what did happen was sufficiently significant to cause concern. There was clearly an inappropriate approach by the Appellant to a girl he did not know. I reject the Appellant’s account of what happened. That incident alone would cause me serious concern – but I look at the earlier allegations and see a clear pattern of behaviour.
“I accept that the Appellant has no previous convictions and is regularly checked to make sure he has no convictions, but the guidance does not just apply to convictions. A whole raft of behaviour may cause concern and lead to a person being judged as not fit and proper. It may not necessarily result in a police charge or conviction. Public safety is paramount.”
The appellant was also ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £1550.