Passengers booking taxis in Wakefield could soon be asked to disclose where they live, even if they’re not travelling to or from their home address.
Private hire firms are set to request the details from every customer under proposed new rules.
Wakefield Council, who are looking to implement the change as part of a review of its taxi policies, say the move is in the interests of safeguarding.
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It will help them get in touch with passengers in the event of any incident that needs following up afterwards.
However, both the council and operators have accepted they are powerless to stop people giving false names and addresses, as passengers are under no obligation to comply.
The idea was discussed at the council’s licensing committee on Wednesday.
Representing one of the district’s taxi driver unions, licensing consultant Dave Wilson told the meeting he thought asking for customers’ addresses was “not unreasonable”.
But he cautioned: “The main issue is whether people will honestly tell you.
“I think there may well be a number of Mickey Mouses and Donald Ducks.
“And where do they live? Disneyland, presumably!
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“I know a licensing solicitor who, whenever he uses taxis, gives another name and a false address, because he doesn’t want the taxi drivers to know exactly where he lives.”
The council is also planning to introduce DBS checks for taxi office staff.
However, Mr Wilson expressed opposition to that idea, saying that forcing existing employees to undergo the checks may be “difficult” under employment law.
He said that firms could be forced to sack staff who refused to have the requirement written into a new contract, leaving them open to unfair dismissal claims.
He told the meeting: “I’m not suggesting that operators are opposed to the DBS checks.
“But if you’ve been employed by an operator for 15 or 20 years, you’ve had no trouble and they trust you implicitly, there’s a risk some people might take great offence.”
However, councillors voted in favour of the idea being included in the proposed new policy, which will eventually go out to public consultation before it’s put into practice.
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Labour’s Coun Clive Tennant said: “I can understand where Mr Wilson is coming from.
“They might be a first-class employee.
“But the only person who doesn’t want a DBS check is someone who’s got something to hide. That’s my opinion.”
Taxi drivers are already subject to criminal background checks when they apply for, or renew a licence, and so the proposals do not affect them.
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