Thinking allowed — 13 October 2009

It’s now been four weeks since London’s Black Cabbies protested about the Public Carriage Office (‘PCO’) allowing an unsuitable person to start the Knowledge.

The gentleman concerned has now been removed from the course but the public have a right to know if there are any other criminals driving London’s Black Cabs.

For their safety and our reputation relies on it.

As reported extensively in London’s media the PCO allowed a paranoid schizophrenic with convictions for manslaughter and assault to study for the Knowledge. Even worst when a spokesman for the PCO was interviewed by James Whale on LBC he could not, or would not give assurances that other criminals with convictions for serious offences were not aspiring cabbies. He even went as far as to state that the whistleblower within the PCO, if discovered, would be subject to a ‘serious reprimand procedure’.

When I did the Knowledge part of the test was putting the student under pressure to see how they would react. For, how can I put this politely? Some of you can be awkward when you have had a drink, or when we have taken an incorrect route. Unlike other occupations these disputes have to be resolved between ourselves in isolation. If a person with mental health issues has to confront that situation there is nobody around to give them support.

By allowing rickshaws and the blatant touting in the West End every night I’m beginning to lose confidence that this regulatory body has the ability to protect the public. It shouldn’t be cabbies who have to draw the public’s attention these dangers and put pressure on the PCO to do its job.

Picture by Dominic Shannon.

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