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A few weeks ago, a story appearing on the Evening Gazette’s (Teesside) website posed an interesting question regarding minibus drivers and criminal records background (CRB) checks. According to the Gazette, Teesside taxi driver Rasub Afzal is making the case to MPs that the current law needs to be changed. He wants to see the requirements for minibus drivers to be identical to those for taxi drivers.

As it now stands, anyone wishing to be a taxi driver in the UK must undergo an Enhanced Criminal Records check prior to getting his or her private hire vehicles (PHV) licence. Yet the same requirement does not exist for individuals attempting to get a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) licence for minibuses.

As Afzal correctly points out, a driver could be denied a PHV licence based on a past criminal history yet turn right around and earn a PCV licence and begin work as a driver. The question is this: is the discrepancy one that needs to be addressed by the government?

Those in favour of the change cite the fact that minibus drivers often transport children, the elderly, and the disabled. They believe it is just as important for these drivers to be free of a criminal past as it is for taxi drivers. After all, the only difference in their vehicles is the size.

Those against the change believe including the CRB for minibus drivers is an unnecessary burden at this time. They point out that minibuses usually carry multiple passengers while taxis frequently carry a single rider. They reason that having multiple passengers on a minibus ensures everyone’s safety.

Who is right and who’s wrong in this question, we cannot say. What we do know is that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transportation, MP Norman Baker, has been contacted and asked to look at the issue straight away. Baker responded by saying there are currently no plans on the table to change the law.

Proper Training Still the Key

It’s likely that Parliament will continue looking at the issue now that it has been raised. In the meantime, we know that proper training prior to earning a PCV licence is still the best way to ensure passenger safety. At the HGV Training Centre, we take that training very seriously.

Every candidate attending our training sessions is thoroughly versed in the need for passenger safety as the first priority of the driver. When our drivers complete their education and pass their practical skills test, they are well prepared to transport their passengers while being as safe as possible.

If it turns out the law is eventually changed to require CRB checks for a PCV licence, the HGV Training Centre will fully embrace that change. Our goal is to provide the industry with only the best drivers for minibuses, coaches, regional buses, etc. The way we see it, human cargo is the most valuable cargo of all. There’s no need to take unnecessary risks by exposing passengers to potentially dangerous drivers.

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