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Joint council and police operation sees four drivers convicted for 'blagging'

A joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police has led to the conviction this month of three private hire cab drivers and one out of district hackney carriage driver for picking up passengers illegally (known as ‘blagging’).

The four defendants were:

  • Nafeez Rehman of Humberstone Road, Luton, who attended Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in March 2017. He was fined £160 for plying for hire and £160 for invalid insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £200, with a victim surcharge of £30.
  • Akther Miah of Loriner Place, Downs Barn, Milton Keynes, who attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in March 2017. He was fined £60 for plying for hire and £60 for having invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £200, with a victim surcharge of £30.
  • Samuel Agblemegah of Hartley Road, Luton, who did not attend court and was proven guilty in absence for offences committed in March 2017. He was fined £220 for plying for hire, £200 for having invalid motor insurance, and £100 for failing to provide information. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £200, with a victim surcharge of £30.
  • Hackney carriage driver Balasingam Kuganeswaran of Longdale Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, who attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance in March 2017. He was fined £180 for plying for hire and £180 for having invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £200, with a victim surcharge of £30.

The court heard how officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

At the completion of these journeys taxi enforcement officers from the council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by council officers showed that the vehicles had not actually been officially pre-booked for these journeys.

The vehicles involved were displaying door signs for Private Hire Operators Speedline and Skyline, and were licensed as private hire vehicles by South Northants Council (2) and Aylesbury Vale District Council (1), and as a hackney carriage by Rossendale Borough Council.

Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police said they have on-going concerns over the public’s use of private hire vehicles and out of district hackney carriages that have not been booked in advance.

A similar joint operation saw the conviction of two other drivers earlier this month.

The local authority has meanwhile launched an appeal after a judge dismissed its prosecution of a taxi company over cross-border bookings.

Cllr Catriona Morris, chair of the Regulatory Committee at Milton Keynes, said: “These cases will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law. We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a pre-arranged booking for their own safety.

“These operations by Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”

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