A Huntingdon private hire driver who unlawfully plied for business in Peterborough has been fined £250 and £200 costs after pleading guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (September 25).

Since the case Peterborough City Council has notified Huntingdonshire District Council of the issues the city is experiencing with Huntingdon licensed drivers. Following the conviction, HDC will have to make a decision on whether the driver can keep his Huntingdonshire private hire licence.

Qaisar Javaid, 29, of Peveril Road, Peterborough, pleaded guilty to both the plying for hire charge and for driving without insurance. He was fined £250, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £15. He was also given eight points on his licence for the driving without insurance offence.

When a private hire driver picks up a fare without a booking, he or she invalidates the insurance policy, so the journey is not insured.

Unlike London-style Hackney cabs, private hire cars must be pre-booked through the company's operator and not ply for business on the streets. However, a joint operation between Peterborough City Council's licensing team and Cambridgeshire Constabulary caught Mr Javaid doing exactly that in June.

Plain clothed officers approached Javaid's vehicle in Northminster, Peterborough, at 1.38pm on Sunday June 3 when he agreed to take them to Gunthorpe, directly catching him in the act.

Councillor Peter Hiller, Peterborough cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and planning, said: "Public safety is paramount and [passengers] need to understand the dangers of getting into a private hire car in circumstances such as this.

"By getting into a private hire vehicle without a booking, its insurance may be invalidated, which in the event of an accident could leave a passenger without protection. In addition, there is no record of who picked them up and from where as no booking was made. If the passenger or driver were attacked, police would struggle to identify the driver, vehicle or passenger involved."

HDC said it took a very serious view of private hire drivers plying for hire - picking up fares that were not pre-booked - particularly because of the fact that the passengers were not covered by insurance.

It works closely with the city council and police to crack down on such breaches of licensing rules.