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Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 11254

Guide and Assistance Dog Refusals in taxis and PHC Vehicles

Request


As part of a Sky News investigation in to the acceptance of guide and assistance dogs in licensed taxis and private hire cars, I am requesting the following information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

From 2013 to the current date, please can you provide a yearly breakdown of the following information?


Number of licenses



1. The number of a) taxi / Hackney Carriage and b) private hire licences issued in your licencing area.



Exemption to requirements to carry guide or assistance dogs



2. The number of certificates issued to a) hackney carriage / taxi and b) private hire licensees exempting drivers from carrying guide or assistance dogs



3. In your licensing area, Is a GP's note considered sufficient evidence for the issue of an exemption certificate under S169 and S171 of the Equality Act 2010?



Complaints, prosecutions and enforcement action



4. How many complaints or allegations were made against a) hackney carriage / taxi drivers and b) private hire drivers for refusing to carry a guide or assistance dog?



5. How many a) hackney carriage / taxi and b) private hire drivers did you prosecute for refusing a guide or assistance dog in each year and how many of these resulted in conviction?.



6. How many a) hackney carriage / taxi and b private hire drivers did you take enforcement action against (in each year) for refusing to carry guide or assistance dogs?



7. Do you have a policy in your licensing area whether or not to prosecute drivers believed to have refused guide or assistance dogs? If so, please can you confirm whether you do prosecute where appropriate or whether you have a policy to dispose of cases in any other way.



Guidance on this Freedom of information request



We are aware of a number of occasions in which drivers of PHC and Hackney carriage cars have refused to carry guide and assistance dogs. The purpose of this freedom of information request, (which is being submitted to licensing authorities around the UK) is to establish how commonly guide and assistance dog users are refused carriage. For each question, we would be grateful if you would please provide information broken down by year.



While our aim is explicitly to establish the national picture, we would of course be very happy to receive any additional information or context you may feel appropriate at your discretion.

Response

1. The number of a) taxi / Hackney Carriage and b) private hire licences issued in your licencing area.

This has remained fairly constant year on year for the period requested at a) 255 and b) 32 . There is little or no fluctuation in numbers over the years requested, however, due to a change in operating systems I am unable to be more specific as historic numbers have not been recorded.

Exemption to requirements to carry guide or assistance dogs

2. The number of certificates issued to a) hackney carriage / taxi and b) private hire licensees exempting drivers from carrying guide or assistance dogs

a) None b) None ... Although again I only hold the information for the past year I can confirm that we have never (in the period requested) issued any exemption.

3. In your licensing area, Is a GP's note considered sufficient evidence for the issue of an exemption certificate under S169 and S171 of the Equality Act 2010?
Each case would be considered on merit although under normal circumstances we would require evidence of the need for the exemption e.g. specialist consultant letter, proof of medical condition etc

Complaints, prosecutions and enforcement action

4. How many complaints or allegations were made against a) hackney carriage / taxi drivers and b) private hire drivers for refusing to carry a guide or assistance dog?

a) None b) None ... The complaints data base extends to each of the years requested and this response is the same for each year.

5. How many a) hackney carriage / taxi and b) private hire drivers did you prosecute for refusing a guide or assistance dog in each year and how many of these resulted in conviction?.
None ... No information has ever come to our attention that a driver has refused to carry an assistance dog. This information applies to each year requested.
Nb... Our driver licences are duel and enable each licensed driver to drive either vehicle type.

6. How many a) hackney carriage / taxi and b private hire drivers did you take enforcement action against (in each year) for refusing to carry guide or assistance dogs?

None ... No information has ever come to our attention that a driver has refused to carry an assistance dog. This information applies to each year requested.
Nb... Our driver licences are duel and enable each licensed driver to drive either vehicle type.

7. Do you have a policy in your licensing area whether or not to prosecute drivers believed to have refused guide or assistance dogs? If so, please can you confirm whether you do prosecute where appropriate or whether you have a policy to dispose of cases in any other way.
We have no specific policy on this issue and would treat each matter on merit and in accordance with any requirement of law.