An undercover operation to stamp out illegal taxis in Dacorum has achieved its first prosecution.
The crackdown by Licensing Enforcement Officers from Dacorum Borough Council and Herts Police saw a cabbie operating in Tring hauled before magistrates last week.
Said Shah, 49, of Alward Road, Aylesbury, pleaded guilty to one offence of unlawful plying for hire on High Street, Tring, and one offence of having invalid insurance.
Shah, who is licensed as a taxi driver by Aylesbury Vale District Council, accepted an unbooked fare when approached by police special constables posing as prospective customers in the Dacorum town.
According to the authority, taxi drivers are only authorised to accept fares in the area in which they are licensed, rendering his Tring job as a criminal offence and causing his insurance to be invalid for the journey.
Shah was ordered to pay a total of £516 in court fines and costs, and given six penalty points on his driving licence.
Portfolio Holder for Residents and Regulatory Services at Dacorum Borough Council Neil Harden said: “This operation is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that taxis operating within Dacorum Borough are properly licensed and insured.
“This is very much a matter of public safety. Members of the public are extremely vulnerable if they ‘flag down’ an unlicensed vehicle, or a Private Hire Vehicle which can only accept pre-booked journeys.
“Dacorum Borough Council carries out regular operations to stamp out the practice of illegal plying for hire.
“We urge anyone taking a taxi within Dacorum to use one that is pre-booked or is a Hackney carriage licensed by Dacorum Borough Council. If you are at all unsure you should check the licence plate at the rear of the vehicle or ask to see the driver’s taxi licence.”
As part of the operation, a taxi marshalling scheme is also being on Friday and Saturday nights to help party-goers get home safely from Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town during the festive season.
The scheme was suggested by licensed taxi drivers to improve safety during late night periods in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year and has been funded by Hertfordshire County Council’s community safety unit.
For more information on taxi licensing visit www.dacorum.gov.uk/licensing.