Cabbies and private hire drivers who operate illegally in Birmingham are being warned they will be caught and face prosecution.
New signs have been installed across the city centre reminding drivers against breaking the law and touting for on-street business – a specific offence known in the trade as ’plying.’
The 100 reflective signs have been put near prominent entertainment spots including Broad Street, Hurst Street and Ladywell Walk warning that CCTV is in operation. Offenders face penalty points, hefty court fines and being struck off the council’s books.
West Midlands Police works in partnership with Birmingham City Council’s licensing team to tackle illegal plying for hire.
People who accept lifts from private hire drivers, when they have not pre-booked, are not insured in the event of being injured in an accident; only Hackney Carriage vehicles can take fares without being booked in advance.
However, it is also an offence for Hackney Carriage vehicles to tout for customers outside of the council area it is licensed – again making passenger insurance void.
Almost 50 rogue drivers were found illegally picking up people in the city during the last 18 months as part of a crackdown.
Camera operators monitor vehicles parked near to licensed premises and check if they’ve been legitimately booked, while specially trained officers also pose as passengers to catch those breaking the rules.
Enforcement officer PC Dave Humpherson , from West Midlands Police, said:
“These signs leave no excuses for rogue drivers; if they illegally ply for hire they will be caught.
“The majority operate legitimately but there are those who seek to take advantage and make extra cash.
“Some drivers will use weak excuses such as giving a friend a lift home yet are unable to provide their name or address.
“We have seen drivers given six to nine points on their licence along with some drivers being disqualified from driving. One driver was left with a court bill of £1,800.
“We would always urge passengers to book their journey or make sure they use a properly licenced cab”
“While the message for drivers is simple; stick to the rules, don’t ply for hire. Get caught, go to court!”
Councillor Barbara Dring, chair of Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee added:
“We are fully behind this initiative which will help to reduce the number of private hire drivers that ply for hire illegally.
“Private hire drivers need to remember that most of the city centre is covered by CCTV cameras. Evidence from these cameras can be used in court to convict them and we have successfully prosecuted drivers using CCTV footage.
“We would also like to remind passengers that they are not insured unless they have booked the journey in advance. Only black cabs can pick up at the roadside without a booking.”
For further media information contact Press and PR Officer Debbie Harrison on 303 4476