To receive and consider the report and supporting documents in relation to convictions guidance.
The Committee considered the Guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licensees in the hackney and private hire trade report which was set out in agenda pages 19-68.
Suzanne McLaughlin, PPP Principal Officer presented the report. She stated that a consultation had been carried out and some responses had been received. She informed that the guidance document which had been produced by the Institute of Licensing (IoL) had been created by a selection of key Licensing Authorities and legal experts in the field. The Committee was being presented with the opportunity to adopt the guidance which was aiming to protect the people using the service and bring national uniformity in guidance.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Sean Murphy stated that when looking at applications for licences, each case in was considered on its own merits;
· Councillor Soane stated that he had attended a Licensing conference where the guidance had been discussed. He stated that the guidance was produced in order to protect residents, the Local Authority and drivers. He was of the opinion that the guidance should be adopted;
· Some Members asked which other Local Authorities had adopted the guidance;
· Councillor Burgess was interested to know if Transport for London (TfL) had adopted the guidance;
· Suzanne McLaughlin stated she had made enquires to TfL and was awaiting a response; she had also made some enquires to find out what the uptake of the guidance by other local authorities was but had also not received responses. She informed that a similar paper had gone to Bracknell and West Berkshire. West Berkshire had approved it and Bracknell had asked for some minor tweaks.
· In response to questions Sean Murphy stated that the small tweaks requested were:
o in relation to committing an offence whilst on duty (for example being in possession of drugs whilst driving on taxi duty), a longer period would apply;
o the addition of a definition of what an offensive weapon was in law;
· Sean Murphy stated that some offences were new to the guidance, such as hate crime and modern slavery. The guidance intended to introduce a national standard to the test of a fit and proper person;
· Sean Murphy stated that he would do some research and report back to the Committee regarding the questions raised;
· Members stated that the blanks in the report were misleading. Sean Murphy stated that blanks were where the IoL had not stipulated a period, the expectation was to continue with the Local Authority’s existing period on those cases. Members asked that the blanks be filled in;
· Councillor Soane reminded the Committee that each case would still be looked individually, this was only a guidance;
· Councillor Bowring pointed out that on page 40, under paragraph 4.5 it referred to ‘basic DBS checks for vehicles’. However, vehicles were not subject to DBS checks;
· Councillor Bowring was interested to know how malicious complaints were dealt with. Sean Murphy explained that the guidance was in relation to convictions and not allegations;
· Councillor Hobbs seemed to remember that in the past the Council had decided that after 7 years of a conviction a licence would be issued;
· Some Members asked about the frequency of drug testing (referred to on page 45). Sean Murphy stated that it was up to the Committee to determine how often drug tests should be carried out;
· Members were interested to know more about what Bracknell and West Berkshire had decided as there should be some consistency with Bracknell and West Berkshire.
Members were generally in agreement with the guidance, and would like to review possible amendments with the information requested before making a final decision.
RESOLVED That the report would come back for a consideration at the next meeting.