Taxi drivers facing drug tests after new policy agreed

East Suffolk Council's Licensing Committee have agreed a new policy for new and existing taxi driver

East Suffolk Council's Licensing Committee have agreed a new policy for new and existing taxi drivers. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Taxi drivers in east Suffolk could be tested for illegal drugs to start or continue accepting passengers after a new council policy was approved.

East Suffolk Council’s licensing committee agreed to the new policy for new and existing taxi drivers at a meeting on Monday, July 20.

The proposal comes after two drivers were previously suspended or banned from operating after being arrested.

It states: “An applicant, or licensed driver, who uses illegal drugs would risk compromising the safety of those they transport, other drivers and themselves and so would not be a fit and proper person.

“The licensing authority needs a policy which provides for the mandatory drug testing of applicants with a known history of illegal drug use and existing drivers who the licensing authority has reason to believe they may be using drugs or are under investigation by police, have been arrested, cautioned, charged, prosecuted or convicted of misuse of drugs.”

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All drivers, operators and proprietors of vehicles were contacted by the council as part of a consultation, but no responses were received.

Councillor Paul Ashdown said: “I think we should accept this policy.

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“Taxi drivers by the way they haven’t complained means they are quite happy with it so it is something we should move forward.”

The proposal was unanimously approved by councillors on the committee.

Councillor Tony Goldson said: “Some months ago we had a special meeting for a licencee about a possible use of drugs and we asked to have that driver drug tested.

“We didn’t have the mandatory powers then to actually do it.

“I know he did it, but I think this gives the council the strength it needs to ensure taxi drivers are safe from drugs and alcohol and I wholeheartedly support this recommendation.”

Councillors also unanimously agreed to the adoption of a National Register of Taxi Revocations and Refusals.

The register allows councils to find out whether an applicant has been refused or had their licence revoked elsewhere in the country.

Currently, individual councils have no way of checking an applicant’s history outside their own authority.

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