UK taxi, private hire vehicle drivers to undergo criminal record checks every 6 months


July 21 (Reuters) - Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers in the United Kingdom will have to undergo criminal record checks every six months and cabs could be fitted with CCTV under fresh regulations to improve the licensing system, the country's transport ministry said.

A recommendation for licensing authorities that CCTVs would be "beneficial or proportionate" in their areas has also been included, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new government standards were recommended after a raft of abuse cases in UK cities.

"We know the majority of drivers provide an important and safe service for communities, but in light of appalling incidents in places such as Rochdale, Oxford, Newcastle and Rotherham, more must be done to protect passengers from those who abuse their position of trust," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in the statement.

"That's why we're looking to licensing authorities to enforce these rigorous new standards, ensuring drivers are fit to transport passengers in a safe environment and to stop those who aren't."

Local authorities are expected to implement these tough standards that could help improve consistency in the licensing system and reduce the risk of harm posed to children and vulnerable passengers.

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are required to be trained to help them identify and respond to passengers that may have been abused, the ministry added.

Uber Technologies Inc UBER.N was stripped of its licence to carry paying passengers in London for the second time last November in just over two years over a "pattern of failures" on safety and security.

The Silicon Valley ride-hailing firm has roughly 45,000 drivers in London, one of its most important markets, and is now trying to win back its licence.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

((ramavenkat.raman@thomsonreuters.com; https://twitter.com/ramavenkat0607; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside the U.S. +91 80 6182 2759;))

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