Conviction for 'Facebook taxi driver'

Published Wednesday, 14th August 2019

A Hartlepool man has pleaded guilty to a number of offences relating to him acting as an unlicensed taxi driver, following an investigation led by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Team.

Mr Raymond Cann pleaded guilty at Teesside Magistrates Court to driving without a private hire driver’s licence, driving a vehicle that was not licensed as a private hire vehicle and driving without insurance.

He was fined £480, ordered to pay £300 in costs and had 8 penalty points added to his driving licence.

The Court was told that a Facebook post appeared on 31st December 2018 from a young female offering lifts for £5. A local man accepted the offer and was subsequently picked up by Mr Cann, who also carried out a return journey later that same evening.

After receiving a complaint about the incident, the Council’s Licensing team carried out a full investigation which found that Mr Cann did not have a licence to act as a taxi driver, his vehicle was not licensed as a private hire vehicle and, as a consequence, his vehicle was not insured.

Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, said: “There is an inherent risk in accepting lifts from strangers. This is one of the reasons why taxi drivers must undergo rigorous checks including Enhanced Criminal Records checks, thorough medical examinations and training on issues such as Child Sexual Exploitation. Regular vehicle checks are also carried out.

“This is to ensure that they are safe and suitable to transport members of the public. Unlicensed drivers have not undergone these checks and therefore members of the public have no reassurances about their safety and, when a driver is unlicensed, the car they are driving will be uninsured.

“I am aware that Facebook and other social media platforms are being used to offer ‘cheap lifts’ but I would urge everyone to not accept these regardless of how attractive the offer may sound.

“In order to protect the public, Hartlepool Council will not hesitate in taking enforcement action against any other person it finds to be acting as an unlicensed taxi driver.”

For further information or to report a similar incident, please contact Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Team on 01429 523354.