Random drug testing planned for city taxi drivers

The roof of a white Southampton taxi on a rank, with a mounted Southampton City Council licence plate
Southampton taxi drivers face spot checks for drug use under a new policy [LDRS]

Taxi drivers will face random drug screening under new rules agreed by a city council.

Investigators posing as customers could carry out spot checks by the roadside, Southampton councillors were told.

Phil Bates, the council's licensing service manager, said the policy would also allow a proper response to intelligence about drug use by specific drivers.

He said such reports were "thankfully, very rare".

Senior licensing officer Russell Hawkins told councillors: “What we are looking to do is be able to screen and test as we see fit during operations or during periods of time that we see fit.

“That won’t be every time a driver comes into us. It won’t be every time a driver renews.

“It may be at random roadside when we are conducting test purchases. It may be when we have got specific intelligence. Those situations will come to us as they arise.”

Members of the council's licensing committee also approved a rule requiring hackney carriages to carry working card payment machines.

Councillors were told a “minority” of drivers used the lack of a card machine to refuse short trips.

A further consultation would be needed to introduce the card machine requirement for private hire vehicles.

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