Equality impact assessment leads to changes in taxi licensing services, promoting driver safety and improving relations with drivers *
A review of feedback and complaints to the taxi and private hire licensing service of Bristol City Council identified a number of complaints from drivers who felt that they were not being treated fairly by the Council. The majority of drivers were from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. It became clear there was a need for better communication with BME drivers and awareness-raising among drivers about the regulatory framework governing the trade.
By carrying out a race equality impact assessment of the service, the manager was keen to identify actions that could be taken to improve service delivery, minimise the need for enforcement action and promote better relations between drivers and the council.
An analysis of the data revealed that there had been significant changes over the years in those applying for licenses: from white working class men to BME drivers, many of whom speak English as a second language.
Officers realised they needed to be pro-active in explaining the rules and regulations regarding taxi / private hire licensing, recognising that BME drivers, in particular, were less likely to have access to this information through family / trade connections. Enforcement action against drivers brought before the Public Protection Committee negatively affected the drivers’ perception of the council, yet drivers needed to understand why the breaches had occurred and what their individual responsibilities were.
The policy was revised as a result of the impact assessment to emphasise promotion and prevention. This led to the following actions:
- Accessible information was produced on rules and regulations
- Equality and diversity training was delivered for the Public Protection Committee members and enforcement officers
- Ethnic monitoring of drivers was introduced
- Improved support for drivers who experienced racial harassment.
The service now reports fewer enforcement actions and there is increased trust from drivers. If they do come before the Committee, most drivers now accept that it is on the basis of sound evidence.
* Source: Case studies: Equality Impact Assessments [EHRC: 2013]