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Tackling organised crime
A clampdown on rogue taxi operators in the Edinburgh area was announced today.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that the Scottish Government is determined to work with the police and local authorites to clamp down on gangsters trying to muscle in on the trade.
He also stressed the benefits that legitimate taxi and private hire car trade plays in the local economy in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
At a meeting with the new Cab Inspector Frank Smith and Derek Bridgeford of the Scottish Taxi Federation, Mr MacAskill said:
"The legitimate taxi and private hire car trade is a major contributor to the local economy here in Edinburgh, as well as in other cities and towns across Scotland.
"The new Cab Inspector will give anyone hailing a cab in the city more confidence in the taxis that they are using. He will play an important role in helping to regulate the trade and act as a deterrent to any criminals considering using taxis as a front for their illegal activities.
"Tackling serious organised crime is one of the Scottish Government's top priorities. Where it infiltrates legitimate business, like the taxi and private hire trade, we are determined to take action.
"We won't allow hard working cabbies who borrow from the bank or mortgage their home to buy a cab and make a living to be driven off the road by crooks and gangsters.
"We have already introduced legislation which allows police checks on those responsible for the operation of taxi and privatre hire booking offices, as well as enabling police and licensing enforcement personnel access for inspection of premises and records.
"Working with the other members of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, we want to send a clear message to organised criminals that there is no room in this industry for those who want to use taxi and private hire car firms as a front for their illegal activities."
Frank Smith said:
"I am delighted to take up my new position as the Taxi Examination Inspector (Cab Inspector) and look forward to working together with the Taxi and Private Hire Car Trade, local authorities and partner agencies.
"Public safety is of paramount importance and I aim to ensure the existing high standards within the industry are maintained and, where opportunities arise, improved upon."
The Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) is based at 33 Murrayburn Road, Edinburgh and is Police staffed acting on behalf of The City of Edinburgh Council. The TEC deals with PHC and Taxi vehicle examination for Midlothian, West Lothian as well as Edinburgh.
The Taxi Examination Inspector referred to as the Cab Inspector maintains overall responsibility for the effective management of this department including the co-ordination of all functions relating to examination, administration and enforcement, associated with the licensing of all taxis and private hire cars and their drivers, within Edinburgh, Midlothian and West Lothian.
The Vehicle examiners at the Taxi Examination Centre examine and test all taxis and private hire vehicles to a standard as defined by the Vehicle Inspectorate and ensure that all vehicle licensing conditions as detailed by the appropriate Licensing Authorities are fully complied with.