Thursday, July 1, 2010

Womens Safety-Staff Returning to Depot by Taxi

1st July 2010 My ref: EO/21


Circular No. NP/122/10

Dear Colleague,


A resolution was carried at the May meeting of our National Women’s Advisory Committee and a decision subsequently taken by the Council of Executives on how it could be best implemented. The resolution raised concerns about the safety of members, especially women, who require transport back to their home depot late at night or early in the morning with monies collected throughout their shift. The example was given of a lone female guard with cash having to wait outside a station for a taxi after midnight.

This issue is being raised with appropriate companies through the collective bargaining procedure. The Council of Executives also asked that I set out to all Branches our policy in relation to safe waiting places and the vetting of taxi firms and drivers by companies.

The starting point is that employers have a duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of any risks to health and safety that their employees may be exposed to either in their workplace or as a result of how the work is carried out. The issue of staff, especially women, having to wait late at night with money in a public area is certainly one that should be the subject of a risk assessment.

One of the first questions that should be addressed is ‘is it necessary for the employee to carry the cash back to their home depot?’ Alternatives such as depositing the monies in a safe or night safe at the station where they have finished their shift must surely be the preferred option, especially as the advice from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is:- ‘Think about your personal safety, if attacked surrender cash!’.

The risk assessment should also consider the potential risk members are exposed to if they have to wait in public places for transport back to their home depot. We should insist on a safe place for them to wait. This matter should be resolved before our members start their shifts. Any instances where a safe place is not provided must be reported.

We would expect all companies who arrange transport to undertake checks to ensure safe transport is provided in these situations. All taxi (hackney carriage) and minicab (private hire) drivers must be licensed for a maximum period of three years but most licensing authorities, usually the local council or in London, TfL, do so on an annual basis. The basic requirement for someone to obtain a private hire vehicle licence is that the licensing authority must determine that the applicant is a ‘fit and proper person’. They do this by normally checking that the applicant has a current drivers’ licence; have no relevant criminal convictions; pass a local knowledge test; and meet certain medical fitness standards. Licensing authorities have the power to impose additional requirements as they may consider reasonably necessary.

Operators of minicab firms also require a licence and should be ‘fit and proper persons’. All licensing authorities have a legal duty to maintain a register of all taxi and minicab drivers and their operators. The register must be made available to the public for inspection free of charge, usually at a designated office but in practice can mostly be accessed on the local authority’s website. Companies can therefore easily carry out checks that the firms and drivers they use are currently licensed.

It is presumed that minicabs will be used. The law requires that they must be pre-booked and cannot be hailed in the street. As they are pre-booked, it should be possible for our members to be informed of the name of the driver and make and colour of the car they will use. The member should confirm the driver’s details before getting in the vehicle. Drivers should be issued with a badge that must be visible.

Advice on safety when travelling in either minicabs or taxis is available on various websites such as and The main safety tips are:-

1. Ensure the minicab is pre-booked and that you know the driver’s name, as well as the make and colour of the car.
2. Confirm the driver’s details when they arrive and before getting into the cab.
3. Sit in the back seat and have a mobile phone handy. If possible travel with a colleague.
4. If you chat with the driver, do not give any personal details.
5. Make sure someone knows where you are and what time to expect you.

Hopefully no one will feel threatened whilst travelling in a cab but should they, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust gives the following advice:-

1. Remember to trust your instincts – if you are at all worried – ask the driver to stop in a busy area, and get out of the car.
2. If the driver refuses to stop, use a mobile to call the police and alert other drivers and pedestrians by waving or calling out the window.

Obviously, late at night or the early hours of the morning this advice may not be a viable strategy but may assist in certain circumstances.

I hope all of this information is of use to all your members, especially women.

Yours sincerely,

General Secretary

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