A standard DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for taxi drivers details any criminal history, convictions, reprimands and warnings recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC).
If you work as a cab driver or operate a taxi fleet, at some point it’s likely you’ll undergo or apply for a DBS check, so it’s important to find out how they work and what they involve.
Customers will always choose to travel with drivers that seem trustworthy.
Along with a background check, there are plenty of steps you can take to boost your passengers’ confidence in your service – securing reliable taxi insurance is a wise place to start.
Taxi Insurer is here to help you find the right cover for your business.
We offer bespoke taxi insurance tailored to your needs, whether you’re an individual driver or a fleet owner, so you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protected against risks such as accident and injury.
Your reputation is everything in the taxi industry. It’s vital to provide customers with reassurance that they’re in safe hands.
We’ve created this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of DBS checks – but keep in mind this should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.
All taxi drivers are eligible for standard and enhanced DBS checks. This is because they transport adults and children frequently, some of whom may be vulnerable.
These background checks help to improve passenger security ensuring only suitable drivers can get behind the wheel.
At present, local councils determine driver standards, with the majority opting to screen would-be cabbies with enhanced DBS checks, as well as barred list checks.
However, new proposals stating that all councils should perform enhanced criminal checks (before granting taxi licences) are currently under consideration.
An enhanced DBS check can also include a check of the Adult’s Barred List and Children’s Barred List.
According to a report released by the Department for Transport, in 2019 all local authorities requested that taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers had security checks made on them.
The number of authorities asking for enhanced DBS and barred list checks has increased since 2017, when the figure sat at 79% for taxi and PHV drivers.
By comparison, in 2019:
Clearly, whether you operate on a self-employed basis or own a full fleet of taxis, it’s highly likely you’ll need to apply for an enhanced DBS check in order to get a local licence – for yourself or your employees.
Uber has jumped on the bandwagon, too, requesting that all PHV drivers applying to work for the company undergo an enhanced DBS check, to help give their customers extra peace of mind.
In 2012, government amendments to the Police Act 1997 Regulations made PHV and taxi drivers eligible for enhanced DBS checks, in a bid to safeguard passengers.
Before these changes were implemented, the only taxi drivers eligible for enhanced DBS checks were those who frequently transported vulnerable adults and children.
While a standard DBS check only covers a driver’s criminal history (taking into account the DBS filtering rule), an enhanced DBS check can also include checks against the Adult’s Barred List and Children’s Barred List, plus any information held by local police forces.
It’s worth noting that the DBS can’t access overseas criminal records, so potential employers may not get a full overview of an applicant’s record, if the applicant has lived outside of the UK at any point.
Unsurprisingly, enhanced DBS checks are now the norm in the taxi industry.
Why? Because local authorities recognise that cab drivers work in positions of significant responsibility, ferrying adults and children to and from various locations on a regular basis.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 introduced two barred lists: the Children’s Barred List and the Adults’ Barred List.
These were implemented with the specific aim of protecting vulnerable people, preventing unsuitable candidates’ employment in roles that put them in contact with vulnerable groups.
These lists enable the DBS to keep a record of people who are barred from carrying out work with children or vulnerable adults.
Taxi drivers on the Children’s Barred List are unable to work in a ‘regulated activity’ with children.
If a cabbie is hired by a third-party organisation (a school or scout group, for example) and is driving a vehicle solely to transport children (including supervisors and carers), either once a week or more than three times within a 30-day timeframe, this would qualify as regulated activity.
This wouldn’t apply if a parent hires a driver privately to transport their child to and from a location.
There are also particular circumstances in which cab drivers qualify for DBS checks regarding their fitness to drive vulnerable adults around.
This doesn’t extend to a barred list check, although the majority of councils require these, too.
An individual is unable to apply for an enhanced DBS check: this must be carried out by a third-party organisation.
If you work for a taxi fleet, your employer will apply for one on your behalf: you’ll simply have to fill out the DBS check form. You might be employed by a school to transport children to and from their homes, in which case it would be the school’s responsibility to apply for DBS checks on your behalf.
Many taxi drivers work on a self-employed basis.
In instances such as this, you can contact your local authority for assistance getting an enhanced DBS check carried out – you can apply for a basic check yourself via the DBS online application platform if you live in England or Wales, while those based in Scotland can use Disclosure Scotland.
Along with securing the right level of taxi insurance, cab drivers should aim to get an enhanced DBS check carried out, as it enables them to demonstrate a clean criminal record to potential customers.
If you run a private hire fleet you want reassurance your passengers are in safe hands, so it’s important to be vigilant when hiring new minicab drivers, applying for enhanced DBS checks every time you take on a new member of the team.
Applicants must provide:
If you’re applying for a DBS check, the following steps must be taken:
The form must provide accurate information and be fully completed, or else it will be rejected.
Make sure you record your Form Reference Number (found on the front of your application form), so you can use the government’s free tracking service to check on the progress of your application.
If you’re sending your form to the DBS, it must be sent to:
PO Box 3961
Royal Wootton Bassett
You can look here for detailed guidance on the documents required for a criminal record check. However, you will likely provide three of the following documents:
At this point, your form will be checked for any omissions or mistakes. If it’s acceptable, it will be scanned onto the system at the DBS.
If it’s incorrect, it will be returned for rectification to the counter-signatory.
The data provided on your form will be entered into the PNC, searching for possible matches.
The data provided on your form will be searched against barred lists.
Your enhanced check is then securely, electronically forwarded to the police for additional searches. Any findings are then returned to the DBS.
Your DBS disclosure will be printed in a secure environment and it will then be sent to you.
Most checks take roughly eight weeks to complete but, according to the government site, the time a DBS check takes varies from application to application.
Some checks take longer to process, particularly when they’re being carried out at an enhanced level, as several police forces may be involved in the check.
If the information provided for the check is incorrect, this can also delay the processing time.
A DBS check isn’t failed or passed: it simply provides employers with an account of an applicant’s criminal background, or lack of one.
However, if your check finds previous convictions, you may face a taxi-driving ban. The length of this ban depends on your local authority.
You may raise a dispute, if you believe you’ve mistakenly provided incorrect information within either:
Umbrella bodies or employers can also appeal the results of a DBS check, as long as they speak to the applicant beforehand.
A DBS certificate has no official expiry date.
However, it’s worth noting that the information detailed on a DBS certificate may become outdated.
If you’re hiring new drivers for your fleet, you may wish to check the ‘date of issue’ on an candidate’s certificate and weigh up whether you should request a fresh check – generally, it’s considered good practice to re-check employees every three years, at a minimum.
It’s best to check with your local authority before you start work, as you want to stay within the law at all times.
DBS checks help to keep the public safe.
Whether you’re self-employed or work as part of a fleet, business can only benefit when customers are comforted in the knowledge that enhanced DBS checks have been carried out – it helps build their trust in your service.
So, what else can you do to boost your credibility?
Word travels fast, so ensure every customer has a positive experience travelling with you.
A website is a great place to showcase positive passenger reviews, communicating your trustworthiness and dependability to potential customers.
Check your cabs daily, assessing the health of the engine, tyres, lights and brakes. Make sure your drivers do a daily check of their vehicles as a matter of course.
Get thorough medical and eyesight examinations and never drive in an impaired condition. Make sure you take regular breaks and never drive tired or after you’ve been drinking alcohol.
Taxi Insurer arranges specialist taxi insurance that fits around your needs and business.
You never know when accidents or injuries might arise, so protect yourself and your investment: get a quote today.