BOLTON taxi drivers were investigated last year for offences including grooming, sex crimes against children, drug dealing and slapping a child passenger, a report has revealed.

In 2014, 69 cases against private hire drivers and four against hackney carriage drivers were referred to Bolton Council — some have been through the courts while others are subject to ongoing police investigations.

The report, the first of its kind, has been published by Bolton Council's Licensing and Environmental Regulation Committee (LERC) and includes a case about an an ice cream van licence which was refused because the applicant was being investigated for exposure.

Asif Vali, chairman of the Private Hire Operators' Association in Bolton, said the public "are safe" using taxis in the town.

Mr Vali said: "This is a small percentage of cases out of 1,400 drivers in Bolton. We work in an appropriate manner and adhere to all the rules that are in place.

"You will get a minority that flout the law and they deserve to be prosecuted and, in many cases, deserve to have their private hire licences revoked.

"We can assure you that the public are safe using taxis in Bolton."

A source on the LERC said the number of cases reported last year had increased because of "better co-operation" between police and the council's licensing team. Some of the most serious cases were heard before the director of environmental services, Malcolm Cox.

They included three private hire drivers had their licences revoked by the director, for offences of grooming, sexual assault with a child and sex offences with children.

Two others were suspended in March, one for possessing drugs with intent to supply and the other as part of a police safeguarding investigation.


A third driver was suspended in April after being accused of sexual assault.

A hackney carriage driver was stripped of his licence for drug dealing, while one's future is pending the outcome of a police investigation into an affray with an iron bar.

Bolton Council says some of the alleged offences referenced in the report took place in taxis, while others did not.

Cllr Anthony Connell, chair of the LERC, said the committee was happy that taxi companies were making the necessary checks on drivers when hiring them.

It is thought that changes in approach have resulted in drivers having licences revoked where previously they may have been just suspended.

Cllr Connell said: "We have actually had quite a big improvement from the companies.

"We were quite happy that the checks were up to the required standard."

Only last week, driver Kamran Ali, aged 43, of Southwood Close, Great Lever, was jailed for a year for sexually assaulting two women, aged 17 and 24, in his taxi in two separate incidents in March last year.

Earlier this month, private hire drivers Absar Ahmed, aged 34, of Orchid Avenue, Farnworth, and Irfanbhai Malatgar, aged 34, of Halliwell Road, were fined for picking up fares off the street without having a hackney carriage licence.

The pair are still to learn whether their taxi licences will be revoked.

The LERC dealt with 15 private hire drivers, including two suspended for four weeks each for slapping a child passenger and racial abuse respectively.

Among the licences revoked were for drivers accused of making inappropriate sexual comments, money laundering, benefit fraud and dangerous driving.

A sub-committee which deals specifically with matters of a sexual nature or domestic violence heard cases against private hire drivers accused of rape, domestic violence and inappropriate behaviour towards women

A second sub-committee, which deals with driving convictions, stripped two private hire drivers of their licences, suspended 22 and warned 19 others.

It also suspended one hackney carriage driver for two weeks and wrote a warning letter to a second.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: "The council's licensing committees may revoke a taxi driver's licence or refuse a new application if they feel that they are not a fit and proper person to hold a licence. They can also suspend licences for a certain period of time.

“The burden of proof for licensing decisions is on the balance of probabilities. Licensing authorities will take into account not only criminal records, but also intelligence held on that person by police, council or third parties, their history of compliance with licensing and their previous behaviour as a taxi driver."