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Private hire firms in the East Riding are one of the first in the country to take part in a mandatory accreditation scheme designed to promote public safety and raise standards.
The private hire operators' accreditation scheme has been implemented by East Riding of Yorkshire Council's licensing team and will see operators display a star rating, similar to the food hygiene ratings given to food outlets.
Operators will be assessed on a number of criteria and they will be given a rating of between three and five stars, with three being the minimum basic requirement which must be achieved.
An accreditation sticker and certificate will be issued which will be prominently displayed in the offices and the private hire cars giving the public information and reassurance that the firm they are using operates to a high standard and promotes public safety.
Some of the criteria the operators will be tested on include:
• good data protection knowledge and compliance
• an awareness of safeguarding and child sexual exploitation issues
• an awareness of the needs of passengers with a disability
• a good knowledge of the local area
• being capable of running the business to the required standard set in the licensing policy
• responsive to customer complaints.
Since the scheme launched earlier this year, 64 of the existing 80 licensed private hire operators have already achieved the satisfactory three-star rating by attending a private hire law and safeguarding awareness session.
Firms can then choose to undergo an assessment by licensing officers in order to achieve the higher four or five star rating.
The scheme is just one of a number of measures recently introduced for taxis and private hire services operating in the East Riding to give protection to both customers and drivers, such as the installation of CCTV cameras in licensed vehicles, mandatory safeguarding training and the introduction of the distinctive green and white livery on taxi vehicles.
Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for community involvement at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "The council is delighted with the response from the private hire operators who have committed to working with us to raise standards across the industry. "Those who have gained their three star award are asking to move on to the next stages to achieve the highest five star level. "The accreditation scheme in place will drive up standards, recognise those operators with excellent systems in place and a real commitment to providing a safe and reliable private hire service for the public."
Picture caption: Paul Bellotti, (left) interim director of environment and neighbourhood services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, James Button (centre), expert in taxi licensing, and Councillor Shaun Horton (right) portfolio holder for community involvment at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, with two private hire operators who recently attended a training session as part of the accreditation scheme.