Hull taxi firm demands tighter driver checks after rape case
A TAXI company has called for more stringent checks on drivers after a passenger was raped.
Hadi Mohammed was jailed last week for raping an 18-year-old woman.
Mohammed was a driver for Hull firm 60-60-60 but was not sent by them to pick up his victim.
He was vetted by Hull City Council but not seen as a danger and granted a taxi licence.
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Kevin Marsh, manager of 57 Taxis, said: "The council needs to look at another way of doing it.
"At the moment, once they come to your office with a taxi badge, as far as anyone's concerned, they're safe to drive."
All drivers have enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks revealing previous convictions to discover if they might be a danger to the public.
But immigrants to Hull and the East Riding are not always subject to the same background checks in their home countries.
Instead, embassies supply a letter confirming they are safe to drive a cab.
Mr Marsh wants the process to be improved.
He said: "We want to make the council aware that maybe foreign drivers shouldn't be able to drive for five or ten years.
"We have foreign drivers and they've been with us a long time.
"You've got to start somewhere so we give them a chance but if we get negative feedback, we might take it up with them."
Councillor Nadine Fudge, chairman of the council's licensing committee, said: "The council follows government legislation and takes all steps possible to ensure applicants are checked to protect the public.
"All applicants are subject to an enhanced CRB check that covers their conviction history in this country.
"Foreign applicants who have been in the country less than five years must provide a Certificate of Good Conduct from their embassy.
"We also check a foreign national's right to work in this country with UK Border Agency before issuing an applicant with a licence."
Anyone with relevant criminal convictions is referred to the committee, which then decides if they are fit to drive a cab.
Ms Fudge said: "Licences will be suspended, pending a review, if there is an allegation of a serious offence affecting public safety and we work with the police to share information so swift action can be taken as necessary."
Mr Marsh's firm fitted new software last year to track all their cabs around the city on a GPS map.
It means they know where drivers are and what they are doing whenever they are at work.
Mr Marsh said: "We've got the newest software in Hull – we can track our cars anywhere, anytime.
"Our GPS system will put lines on a map of everywhere drivers go.
"If customers know they are being tracked from the minute they get in a car, it gives them a little bit more safety."
The firm uses software supplied by Manchester company Autocab.
David Hickie, marketing executive at Autocab, said: "It's especially safe for females going home alone at night because it reduces the chance of a rogue taxi driver.
"This software is the most advanced on the market."
Bryan Carter, a director of 57 Taxis, said the police had been taking an interest.
He said: "We get a lot of police down with mobile numbers looking for the big drug dealers and asking if they've travelled anywhere with us."
The software plots GPS routes through Hull for individual fares.
If officers can match a suspect's mobile number with one used to call a 57 cab, they can work out where he or she has travelled, Mr Carter said.