Illegal limousines pose a danger to the public due to invalid insurance and independent vehicle safety checks that apply to the rest of the industry
Merseyside Police working with partners have crushed a vehicle as part of an on-going operation to ensure the safety of passengers being carried by limousines and public service vehicles.
Since December 2014 Merseyside Police, working in partnership the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Liverpool city council, have been engaged in running Operation Craton.
The aim on the operation is to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured as a result of commercial vehicle collisions on the roads of Merseyside and to raise awareness regarding the dangers of failing to comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, EU driver’s hours regulations and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and council by-law in respect of taxi regulations.
As part of this operation a ‘stretched limousine’, which had been illegally modified with a third axle being fitted, was seized and was crushed on Friday, 9 January because it did not meet UK safety laws. The vehicle was also operating outside of the conditions of the insurance policy and driver’s licensing conditions.
Companies running public service vehicles (PSVs) with eight seats or more must have an operator’s licence to show that they meet strict rules on safety procedures and financial standing.
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If a limousine company does not have an operator’s licence and is not registered for private hire with a local authority then there is a risk that the driver may not hold the correct licence, any insurance could be invalid and it might not be constructed or maintained to a safe standard.
Chief Inspector John Hogan, head of Merseyside Police’s Matrix Serious and Organised Crime- Roads Policing Department, said: “The limousine and novelty vehicle industry has seen rapid growth in recent years and we want to see these legitimate businesses continue to thrive.
“However, those operating vehicles outside of the law put the safety of their passengers and other road users at risk, and create unfair competition for legitimately-run businesses.
“This is something that we aim to address through robust enforcement. The force working with partners from DVSA and Liverpool city council will make full use of their powers to stop the small minority of operators who threaten to bring the industry into disrepute and to put the safety of their passengers and other road users at risk.
“The few businesses who insist on operating illegally and with little regard for passenger safety can expect to be prosecuted and lose their vehicles indefinitely or even, as in this case, for good.”
The operation has already seen four illegal vehicles seized and over 44 fixed penalty notices issued to drivers operating outside of the law. Prohibition and defect notices have also been issued to 41 drivers for using a vehicle in a defective condition or for failing to comply with driver’s hours legislation.
Constable Craig Arnold, Merseyside Police’s Vehicle Crime & Commercial Unit said: “We have stopped a number of these vehicles during this operation and by acting on community and industry intelligence have found some of them to be operating illegally.
“These illegal drivers and companies are running outside of the law are preventing law-abiding, professional drivers and companies from growing their businesses.
“These vehicles are regularly being hired by parents for teenagers and children attending parties and the like; as such we take the safety of those passengers very seriously”.
A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), said: “DVSA is pleased to be working with the Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council to help target non-compliant vehicles and drivers. It sends a clear message that robust action will be taken against those who flout the rules and risk the safety of passengers and other road users.”