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City council launches random drug testing policy for taxi drivers Published Date: 06/07/2024

Southampton City Council has voted to implement a new drug testing policy for taxi drivers that allows council officers to carry out spot checks on licensed drivers.

The new policy, based on a system used by Portsmouth City Council, says: "Licence holders may be asked to submit to a drugs test to assist in determining the suitability of that individual to hold a taxi licence. These may be done by appointment or spot checks."

Council policy now also provides that licensing enforcement staff "may also carry out random drug screening on existing drivers, proprietors and operators or following an instruction by the Licensing Committee".

If a test returns a positive result, the taxi driver may have their licence suspended or revoked after consideration on individual merit.

If a test from a driver applying for a licence is positive, the council will not grant a licence without referral to the licensing committee, which will decide whether or not to grant the licence.

An officer's report on the recommended change said that "there have been times when officers have found grounds to suspect some licence holders to be using drugs, resulting in testing being undertaken without any policy to guide them".

It also said that officers wish to undertake spot checks in a bid to improve public confidence in the taxi trade.

However, officers noted that there was no guidance to assist an investigating officer in establishing whether a licence holder had been in possession of illicit drugs.

Additionally, some licence holders expressed concern there was no policy in place for this when the council carried out voluntary random drug testing in 2019, the council said.

It later drafted a policy document based on a system used by Portsmouth City Council and passed it on to taxi trade representatives for consultation.

The council said the consultation responses did not give officers cause to amend the version of the proposal consulted upon.

Source: Local Governent Lawyer