Taxi drivers may face tough checks to prevent another John Worboys

London black cabs at a taxi rank at Covent Garden.

London politicians have welcomed government proposals to protect vulnerable taxi and minicab passengers.

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on new plans for taxis and minicabs, which could mean drivers have to pass enhanced criminal record and background checks before they operate.

The chairman of the London Assembly transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon, said: “Anything that improves the safety of passengers has to be a good thing.

“We need to prevent the likes of John Worboys from being able to operate as a legitimate licensed driver again, and stop the worrying numbers of sexual assaults in minicabs.”

John Worboys was a black cab driver who was given an indeterminate prison sentence in 2009 after being convicted of 19 offences, including one rape and several other sex attacks, against 12 women.

After serving 10 years of his sentence, the Parole Board had in January 2018 announced that he could be freed; the High Court overturned the decision following a successful legal challenge by two of his victims and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Government has also pledged to look at restricting drivers operating hundreds of miles away from where they are licensed.

The consultation period for the proposals will run until 22 April.

The London Assembly transport committee will also publish a report into the taxi and private hire industry in March.

Photo by Garry Knight (Creative Commons).