Hundreds of London Minicabs Could be ‘Working Illegally’
Hundreds of London minicab drivers may be working fraudulently after buying qualifications, the BBC has found. Drivers must sit mandatory exams to get a licence. But a BBC undercover investigation has exposed colleges cheating the required tests.
Transport for London (TfL) said it would immediately investigate at least 1,667 applications in light of the evidence.
TfL, the licensing authority, said it was “deeply concerned” by the findings.
The growth in taxi booking firms such as Uber has seen the number of private hire vehicle licences in use that were issued in the capital surge by 86% between 2011 and 2018, from 61,200 to 113,645.
Under the cab application process, along with a criminal record check and a medical test, drivers must sit a topographical exam and an English test at one of eight official TfL testing centres. Evidence of these exams can also be accepted via other qualifications including BTecs, which are usually taken at private colleges and centres.
The qualification can be used to gain a minicab licence from many councils across the UK.
One of these colleges, Vista Training Solutions in Newham, east London, offered to take the tests for several BBC researchers for £500 per BTec.
At a mandatory English and maths assessment answers were read out to eight candidates taking the BTec fraudulently. Registers were falsified before the online BTec exam was taken by the managers on the candidates’ behalf.
The researcher, who had neither attended any classes nor completed an exam, received a BTec level two certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver.
Another undercover BBC researcher, who had also done nothing other than pay, subsequently received a certificate stating he had passed his BTec level two.