CHECKS making it easier to uncover past criminal behaviour of prospective taxi drivers are set to be adopted in Blackburn with Darwen.

Earlier this year, The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation on new licensing guidelines for councils.

The proposed measures consulted on included recommending every local authority ensures drivers have an enhanced criminal record and background check before they can operate.

Currently when a driver who does not disclose information about a previous revocation or refusal of a licence there is often no way for a licensing authority to find out about it.

This means vital information about a driver’s past behaviour is missed and a driver might be granted a licence in a new area despite having a licence revoked elsewhere.

In response to this, the Local Government Association (LGA) has commissioned the development of a national register of all revoked and refused private hire and hackney carriage drivers licences.

This will allow licensing authorities to record their refusals and revocations and check new applicants against the register. Guidance has been issued by the LGA on how to implement use of the register.

Authorities will need to update policies, provide historical data to the database and amend forms and information given to drivers.

In particular, all the drivers who have been refused or revoked in the past will need to be written to individually and informed that their details will be entered onto the register.

Last year, information released by the Disclosure and Barring Service under the Freedom of Information Act showed paedophiles and fraudsters were among the criminals whose convictions were revealed as part of the process of applying to be taxi drivers in Blackburn with Darwen.

Figures showed 315 people with a total of 1,678 offences applied for a check as part of their bid to hold a licence to drive a taxi in the borough over the last three years.

But it is not clear how many of those 315 people were successful in getting a licence.

Executive member for environment, Cllr Jim Smith, said: “The simple objective is to ensure that all authorities are able to make properly informed decisions on whether an applicant is fit and proper, in the knowledge that another authority has reached a negative view on the same applicant.

“This will be achieved by providing a mechanism for allowing authorities to check.

“Whenever an authority receives an application for a licence they must check at an early stage if that driver is on the register.

“Every decision must be made on its own merits; a previous refusal or revocation cannot fetter the Licensing Authority’s decision by relying on the previous decision.

“The purpose of the register is not to mean that a person who has been refused a licence on one occasion should always be refused.

“However, it will always be relevant for an authority to consider the previous revocation or refusal and reasons for it.”

The register will be hosted by the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN) through a dedicated secure portal.

An officer will be designated to input and retrieve information from the register.

Historic data will be migrated onto the register and details will be stored for up to 25 years.