Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clampdown on Illegal Cabbies

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clampdown on Illegal Cabbies

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Seddon Reporter

DODGY cab drivers illegally profiting in Newcastle are being targeted in the run-up to Christmas and New Year's Eve.

With Operation Sanctuary fresh in the minds of Newcastle City Council and Northumbria Police, the joint operation aims to ensure taxis are being operated safely and legitimately.

Council staff and police officers have upped the number of random checks on taxis in recent days, carrying out checks on cabs parked around the city centre and using traffic police to pull cars over on the road.

With thousands flocking to Newcastle's bars and restaurants for festive celebrations, authorities are braced for a spike in offending and have been preemptively hitting drivers trading on the black market. Councillor Nick Kemp, cabinet member for regulation, said: "Newcastle has a vibrant night-time economy which is something we are really proud of, but we want to make sure that the city is safe and ensure that people aren't put at risk by travelling in unsafe and potentially unlicensed vehicles.

"Our message is simple: taxi drivers who put people at risk by working illegally will be prosecuted and could ultimately lose their livelihoods."

As well as making sure cars are roadworthy and drivers are qualified to operate on the city's roads, the routine operations also contributes to efforts safeguarding vulnerable people in Newcastle.

As previously reported, 25 taxi drivers lost their licence during the Operation Sanctuary sex exploitation investigations and both the police and council say that making sure cars are properly regulated is key to keeping people safe.

Stephen Wykes, Northumbria Police's neighbourhood inspector for Newcastle city centre, said enforcement officers are looking for a "range" of offences and making sure potentially dangerous drivers aren't left to operate without the proper checks is part of their focus.

He said: "There's some clarity needed about what Operation Sanctuary is now. …

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