BOLTON has more than 1,600 private hire drivers in the borough.

This week Sgt John Boyce, for Bolton's partnership and licensing team, explains how officers work with Bolton Council to work together to regulate the licensing of private hire drivers.

People wanting to become private hire drivers apply for a licence through Bolton Council but must undergo police checks and other processes before being allowed on the roads.

Private hire drivers are only able to transport people who have booked their journey in advance with a licensed firm.

Drivers with criminal convictions must declare them to the authority. If a driver discloses a criminal conviction or police learn a driver has a conviction each case is reviewed individually on its merits.

Police also make a decision about whether to suspend a licence if a driver has been arrested or a serious complaint has been made.

Sgt Boyce said: “Police and the local authority are keen to ensure the integrity of the system. The public has a right to expect that when they get into a taxi the person driving is a person of integrity. If drivers break any rules they need to be taken out of the system.”

Sgt Boyce said police and the council strive to ensure drivers are fit and proper, the person does not pose a threat to the public, the public are protected from dishonest people and the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

He said drivers with convictions or people arrested on suspicion of violence offences, sex offences, dishonestly crimes and drug offences cause particular concern to authorities who will decide whether passengers are likely to be at risk.

About six drivers in the town have been suspended since April and a further seven are thought to be under review.

Drivers need to declare convictions every time a licence is reviewed and Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are carried out every three years. CRB checks include all current and spent convictions, cautions and motor offences.

Bolton Council is able to suspend a driver even police are not investigating the case. Last year, private hire driver Riazuddin Malji was unsuccessful in a challenge to overturn a decision made by Bolton Council to have his licence revoked.

He was found to not be a fit and proper person to be a private hire driver after he allegedly asked a 13-year-old passenger’s mobile phone number and asked if she liked smoking drugs. Bolton magistrates upheld the decision of the council.