Members of Sheffield Council’s licensing sub-committee are now expected to revoke Altaf Hussain’s licence after the 45-year-old was found guilty of two counts of rape and jailed for 15 years.
When asked whether an inquiry will be held following the shocking crime, the council did not give an answer but it described the measures which are already in place to ensure the safety of taxi passengers in the city.
Fellow taxi drivers have also condemned the crime but insist that Sheffield has a ‘proud’ record when it comes to safety and claim passengers should not be put off by what they say was an isolated incident.
What happens when a taxi driver applies for a licence?
Sheffield Council told The Star that anyone applying for a licence must undergo a range of tests and checks, and that safeguarding training checks are also made to the National Anti-Fraud Network database on refusals and revocation of hackney carriage and private hire licences.
And it added that applicants are also required to apply for an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Once a licence is granted, the council said, holders must be able to show proof of continuous registration with the DBS Update Service to enable the council to routinely check for new information every six months or face suspension.
South Yorkshire Police revealed how Hussain, formerly of the Ecclesall area of Sheffield, had picked up his 18-year-old victim in January 2020 and driven her to a secluded area where he raped her.
What have taxi drivers said about the shocking crime?
Following Altaf Hussain’s sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court last Friday, Sheffield taxi driver Ibrar Hussain said: “In my 34 years as a taxi driver, this is the first time I’ve heard of a taxi driver doing something like this in Sheffield.
“We’re working very closely with the licensing authority and with the police to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“This is one awfully sad incident that’s shocked us all, but, rest assured, 99.999 per cent of drivers are very, very safe and the drivers in Sheffield want to be a beacon for drivers across the country.”
Mr Hussain added that Sheffield Council already had in place a ‘very rigorous process’ for people applying to become a taxi driver.
But he reiterated his concerns about cross-border working, which means people who are licensed in one part of the country can work anywhere else in the country, and said he would advise passengers to make sure before getting into a taxi that it’s a Sheffield-licensed vehicle.
Lee Ward, chairman of the taxi drivers group ALPHA (A Local Private Hire Association), said: “Thankfully in Sheffield this is a very, very rare occurrence where a taxi driver commits such a heinous crime as that. It’s so rare that the trade in Sheffield is proud of its record.”
He added: “People should be able to step into a taxi knowing the driver’s a fit and proper person they can rely on to get them home.”
Mr Ward advised passengers to only flag down licensed Hackney cabs or pre-book their journey with a reputable company, and to only use drivers who are licensed in Sheffield.”