Taxi drivers to face drug tests before being granted licence
PUBLISHED: 14:02 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:02 15 January 2020
Archant Norfolk © 2016
Taxi drivers in east Suffolk could face drug tests to keep accepting passengers.
A proposal before East Suffolk Council's licensing committee suggests the mandatory tests be introduced to ensure the safety of passengers and the general public.
The move comes after two drivers were found to have been suspended or banned from operating after being arrested.
The new policy is hoped to ensure only "fit and proper" drivers are granted a taxi licence in the district, while allowing the council to quickly revoke licences of drivers who take illegal drugs.
A report prepared ahead of the licensing committee's meeting on Monday, January 20 said: "In the past 18 months, the licensing authority has suspended or revoked the licences of two hackney carriage and private hire drivers.
"This was as a result of their arrests, in separate incidents, on the roadside by Suffolk police.
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"A licensing sub-committee has also recently imposed a condition on a driver to undergo a drug test before a licence is granted and, in another case, required random drug testing of a driver for a specified period after the granting of their licence.
"It would be completely unacceptable, because of the risks to public safety, for a drug user to be granted a hackney carriage or private hire driver's licence as they cannot reasonably be considered to be a fit and proper person to be granted a licence."
The report adds the number of taxi drivers arrested for drug-driving is "very small", out of the 589 licensed drivers, but said: "It has to be recognised that occasionally it is brought to the attention of the council that a driver is allegedly prepared to take illegal drugs and drive their vehicles."
It is hoped the introduction of a drug testing policy would also act as a deterrent and "encourage those who are currently taking illegal drugs to cease doing so because of the potential risk to their licence and livelihood, in addition to any possible criminal sanctions".
Currently, the cost of carrying out a drug test is around £300, which the licensing authority has previously been funding.
Now, applicants with drug-related convictions will be required to fund their own tests in order to get their licence.
Should the recommendation be approved, a consultation with local taxi drivers will begin.