Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright has slammed Government plans to reform taxi and minicab laws, branding them ‘irresponsible and dangerous’.
The reforms form part of the Deregulation Bill, which will be put before MPs next week.
They include allowing anyone to drive an ‘off-duty’ minicab as well as permitting minicab firms to subcontract bookings to operators in other areas.
The Commissioner said: “The protection of vulnerable people is one of my top priorities, so it is therefore of great concern to me when many vulnerable people and those with disabilities rely on the use of taxis and minicabs, not to mention women travelling alone and individuals making their way home after a night out.
“It is crucial that measures are kept in place to adequately protect passengers and to make it more difficult for rogue drivers, or criminals who see an opportunity to prey on victims by posing as a bona fide, licenced driver.
“Passengers are currently reassured by the fact that drivers have been checked for a criminal record – there are regulations covering both them and their vehicle.
“If the industry is deregulated by these amendments, it will mean that passengers have no way of knowing if the person driving the cab is genuine, if the cab has undergone safety checks or if it is properly licenced for use.
“The safety of passengers will be put at risk if these reforms are passed.”
The Commissioner has written to the Government setting out his concerns and is urging South Yorkshire MPs to oppose the plans.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which promotes personal safety, has also raised concerns.