Stockton Council and Stockton Hackney Drivers Association are joining forces to reassure people that taxi drivers licensed by Stockton Council go through extensive tests to help ensure they keep the public safe.
Many taxi drivers operating across the Borough have reported an increase in the number of people expressing concern for their safety following the recent sentencing of a 'taxi driver' living in Stockton who was convicted of raping a passenger.
Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, Councillor Steve Nelson, said: "I would like to reassure Stockton Borough residents that the safety of people travelling throughout Stockton Borough is of paramount importance to us - that is why all 700 taxi drivers licensed by Stockton Council have to pass stringent security tests.
"Every Stockton Council licensed driver is subject to an enhanced disclosure from the criminal records bureau. Their vehicles are also regularly tested for safety and insurance cover and we carry out random and intelligence led drugs tests.
"This man was not licensed through Stockton Council as he drove a minibus - any vehicle with more than eight seats cannot be licensed by the Council but must be licensed by the DVLA instead."
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham recently submitted written questions to the Secretary of State for Transport to clarify the security checks drivers licensed by the DVLA and VOSA currently undertake. It revealed that there are no plans to introduce CRB checks for passenger carrying vehicle drivers or to carry out checks with local authority licensing departments.
Secretary of Stockton Hackney Drivers' Association, Javid Khazir, added: "I would like to encourage people to use Hackney taxis which are licensed by the Council like all of our cars.
"All of our drivers and vehicles have undertaken all of the Council's licensing checks and always carry photo I.D."
For more tips about how to stay safe when travelling by taxi visit www.stockton.gov.uk/taxisafety