Agenda item

PSP Report RK

Minutes:

The applicant was in attendance.

 

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       This is an application for a Private Hire Driver’s (PHD) Licence. RK declared a conviction for conspiracy to supply class B drugs, which was confirmed on a DBS check, the conviction date being 19 October 2018. Disposal was imprisonment for 16 months.

·       RK previously held a PHD from 27 June 2011. An officer hearing was held by Emma Lake on 24 Jan 2019, where the decision was made to revoke the licence with immediate effect.

·       There are 2 DVLA convictions from 9/10 years ago. There is also a previous caution on theft by finding from July 2006.

·       RL is seeking exemption from the gold standard and knowledge tests.

·       Policy on drug offences is to refuse an application within 5 years of conviction, which would cover up to 19 October 2023.

 

The applicant gave the following evidence:

·       RK believes that a considerable amount of time has passed since the offence.

·       Serving a prison sentence has been a life changing experience and made RK realise what is important in life. He has been a taxi driver for 8 years.

·       RK notified BCC as soon as possible about the arrest which shows honesty as he still had 2 years on his licence.

·       RK apologised for his behaviour and explained it was a difficult period in his life as he was going through separation and got involved with a bad crowd.

·       RK wants a chance to go back to work and lead a normal life. He believes that his custodial sentence was punishment enough and preventing him from working is punitive.

 

After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed:

·       The nature of a particular drug offence can be considered, supply of drugs is more serious than possession. 2 weeks ago the Department for Transport produced new standards guidance which we will be adopting in the future. Under this new guidance, drug possession is a 5 year cool off period but supply is a 10 year cool off. Current BCC policy is 5 for all drug offences.

·       There is a requirement for Local Authorities to have regard for the new guidance even if it is not adopted.

·       It was confirmed that the belated evidence submitted, including character reference, had been circulated to members.

·       RK was caught with 1kg of cannabis in his possession.

·       The law is that personal circumstances are not relevant in these hearings. It is about the suitability of individual to hold a licence and public safety.

·       RK was arrested in March 2018, remanded until October 2018, served 7 months in prison and was out on licence since June 2019.  

 

The Committee withdrew to deliberate on their decision.

 

RESOLVED (unanimous decision)

To refuse to grant the application for a Private Hire Driver’s licence in accordance with section 51 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 because the Committee could not be satisfied that RK was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

 

Reasons for Decision:

The Committee acknowledged that RK was remorseful about his previous conduct and how it had impacted on his life.  However, he had been convicted of a drug related offence on 19 October 2018 which resulted in a 16 months prison sentence being imposed.  This indicates that the Court considered the criminal conduct to be at the most serious end of the scale.  The Council’s policy on offending behaviour recommends a period of at least 5 years free of conviction before an application will be entertained.  The recently published statutory taxi and private hire standards recommended a longer period free of conviction in regard to intent to supply.  In RK’s case the recommended period free of conviction was not due to expire until at least 19 October 2023.

 

The burden of proving that a departure from Council policy can be made lies on the individual applicant.  In RK’s case the Committee could not be satisfied that he had discharged the burden of proving that an exception to the policy could be made without undermining it or the reasons that underlie it.

 

The conviction on its own was sufficient to debar RK from being a suitable person to hold a licence, but had he passed this first hurdle, the Committee also considered that it would not be appropriate to exempt him from the Gold Standard and Knowledge tests.  The Committee could not therefore be satisfied that RK was a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence and consequently the application was refused.