"Sian’s law" will tighten checks on taxi drivers

"Sian’s law" will tighten checks on taxi drivers

On the 31st March 2022, the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safe-ty) Act 2022 (or Sian’s law) received royal assent. The bill makes it mandatory for licensing authorities to ensure that important background information about drivers applying for licenses in their area is checked, prior to the license being issued.

What’s in the Bill?

Historically, it has been possible for taxi drivers to lose their license in one local council area and re-apply for it in another area without disclosing anything about their licensing history—the new bill outlines the local council’s duty to record information about licensing decisions in a central database, and further instructs that this database must be searched and checked upon any new application for a license.

The Bill essentially makes provision for, and encourages intelligence sharing between local councils regarding any concerning previous conduct; reports and complaints; or license refusals, suspensions or revocations, so that applicants who are not be found to be fit and proper, are not granted licenses.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and Elaine Pickford introduced the campaign to parliament in 2018, joining forces with MP Sir Robert Buckland, MP Peter Gibson, Kate Tomlinson and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, to get the Bill through parliament.

"This law, by way of sharing information across local authorities and improving the safety checks, will go some way to ensuring drivers with criminal motive are not able to manipulate the system to gain licenses.”

Elaine Pickford, mother of Sian O’Callaghan

Sian O’Callaghan

On the 19th March 2011, Sian O’Callaghan was killed by taxi driver Christopher Halliwell after getting into his taxi following a night out in Swindon. O’Callaghan’s body was found five days later.

Halliwell also confessed to murdering another woman, Becky Godden, and has since been sentenced to life in prison.

Sian’s family have been campaigning for an increase in safety measures for taxi passengers ever since, in an effort to prevent further tragedies.

Darlington MP Peter Gibson, who introduced the Bill said:

"I'm going to call it Sian's Law because it's a way to remember Sian and pay tribute to the work that Elaine has done along with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust...It closes that loophole...so that bad people who we don't want driving taxis can't circumnavi-gate the system."

There are approximately 343,000 taxi and private hire vehicle driver licenses issued in England currently, and 276 local licensing authorities. It is the responsibility of the local licensing authority to decide wheth-er an applicant is fit and proper to receive a license —this Bill ensures that more information is readily available, to support making those decisions correctly.

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