Taxi driver prosecuted for illegally picking up fare

A private hire taxi driver has been fined after pleading guilty to plying for hire following an undercover safety operation led by Telford & Wrekin Council.

Published on: 30 May 2024

Telford Magistrates Court heard how during an evening enforcement exercise in October 2023, Imran Riaz, 35, of Regents Street, Wellington, Telford, was approached by council officers at Showcase Cinema and agreed to take them to Snedshill Trading Estate, Holyhead Road, Telford.

Private hire taxi drivers are not permitted to pick up passengers off the street who have not pre-booked. Officers identified Riaz’s vehicle as one licensed by Shropshire Council.

The defendant pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid insurance when he appeared before magistrates on 20 May 2024. He was fined £294, ordered to pay £300 costs and a £118 victim surcharge and given eight penalty points on his driving licence.

Dean Sargeant, Director of Neighbourhood and Enforcement at Telford & Wrekin Council, said:

“Following the work of our night-time economy officers, we have again successfully prosecuted a taxi driver who disregarded legislation and put the safety of his passengers at risk.

“Illegally plying for hire and driving without insurance are offences that this authority will not tolerate. If a member of the public gets into a vehicle not operating lawfully, they will not be covered by insurance in the event of an accident. We’d like to remind everyone to check that the vehicle that they get into is properly licensed, either by pre-booking a private hire vehicle in advance through an operator or by taking a journey with a licensed hackney carriage vehicle.

“We will continue to work alongside West Mercia Police and our neighbouring local authorities to clamp down on taxi drivers who flout the rules and undermine the good work of the vast majority of drivers.”

Frances Darling, Head of Business and Consumer Protection at Shropshire Council, said:

“Shropshire Council provided evidence to support Telford & Wrekin Council’s investigation into this matter and we are very pleased with the outcome.  At the time the offence was committed last year, Shropshire Council reviewed the driver’s licence and took appropriate action in line with the council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.  We consider plying for hire offences to be of a very serious nature as they fundamentally pose a serious risk to public safety and undermine the licensed taxi regime.

“We fully support the work that Telford & Wrekin Council undertakes to identify licensed private hire drivers who illegally ply for hire in their area and are committed to reinforcing the message that it is totally unacceptable for any Shropshire Council licensed private hire driver to ply for hire.”

Police constable (PC) Sharon Major from West Mercia Police, said:

“I welcome the penalties imposed on the defendant. Plying for hire is not acceptable and we will continue to work with our partners, including Telford & Wrekin Council, to seek out the small minority of taxi drivers who break the law.”