Project Parker: The Secret Squirrel takes over investigation

Project Parker – Too many chauffeur companies and services believe they are too posh to be licensed, which risks the lives of their clients

 

Through my background in investigations and a working knowledge of the licensed transport industry in particular taxi’s and private hire I was asked to assist with Project Parker.

It was very apparent from the outset that there were serious issues to be tackled, not just from a licensing issue but especially interestingly for me a criminal aspect as well.

Fortunately for me in this digital age a lot of the old fashioned leg work can be undertaken using nothing more than a lap top with an internet connection and the knack of knowing where to look.

Another useful tool in gaining background information into this investigation has been the Freedom of Information Act 2000. A handy piece of legislation when used properly and you need to know about who may or may not be licensed and where they are licensed. It also revealed one council that lied to me regarding one of the operators I was investigating.  I am sure in the future there will be plenty to report on that matter.

I recently made FOI requests to every council in the UK, the request centered on the chauffeur, executive side of the trade. The replies that have been received are still being collated but they give a good overall view of the scale of the problem involved. It also gave me a good opportunity to gauge the level of where each council stands in what they know and how they handle the information they have. Certainly one of the best has been South Lakeland District Council. Regrettably there have been many who despite acknowledging the request have still not responded.

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, this is not about attacking the licensing officers but hopefully we can work with them and NALEO to put together a cohesive workable national standard with a database of licensed chauffeur and executive type vehicles. Also and I believe it is very important that there is a recognizable way of identifying such vehicles but that is something for the future.

Of the current investigations two in particular stand out. The reason I say this is because of the level of criminality involved over and above the usual licensing misdemeanors. The question of Insurance is a very important matter and one case, when it is reported will particularly resonate with members of the public and especially those that have travelled in the vehicles in question.

We have already built up good relations with people who can enforce and will I am sure be enforcing what we have discovered. There are no guarantees, but it will certainly not fail due to lack of effort on the behalf of those involved at Licensed Transport Uncovered.

 

Hopefully by following the Squirrel motto we will have some success to report soon.

Assume nothing, believe nobody and check everything.

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