Local Government Association
Local Government Association
National Register of Licencing Refusals and Revocations
Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives
Following the publication of the Jay Report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, NAFN Data and Intelligence Services (NAFN) was approached by a member of Rotherham Council who was seeking to address concerns raised about the involvement of licensed taxi drivers in these offences.
The lack of joined up information had frustrated the assessment process for many years, inadvertently creating tension between authorities who had refused or revoked licences with good cause, only to have the same driver operating in their area, having been permitted a licence by a neighbouring authority. It became clear that there was no national mechanism to facilitate the exchange of information regarding licence revocations and refusals.
Subsequent discussions with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Institute of Licensing (IoL) confirmed the need to develop a national register of taxi and PHV drivers’ licence revocations and refusals. It was agreed that NAFN was ideally placed to deliver a technical solution and a project was initiated in April 2017 to design, develop and launch a national database: the National Register of Taxi Licence and PHV Revocations and Refusals (NR3).
What are the key achievements?
The Register helps to identify individuals who have been revoked or refused a licence and subsequently make an application in a different area. Licencing authorities are increasingly aware of this innovative service and the number of registered users has risen 65% (129 to 366) in the first half of 2019. The new system has already delivered the following benefits and outcomes: Supports the objectives of safeguarding, prevention and consistency whilst enhancing the reputation of local government; Improved national standards and best practice for the administration of taxi and PHV licences; Effective data sharing and intelligence on taxi and PHV licence revocations and refusals; Enhanced national awareness on checks and controls undertaken in the administration of taxi and PHV licences; Users have identified wider social benefits in reducing the potential for other crimes that might be perpetrated by applicants deemed unfit to receive a licence; Licencing authorities can make informed decisions based on data registered by other councils.
What are the key learning points?
All licensing authorities work differently; therefore, development of a memorandum of understanding supporting the aims and objectives of the initiative required innovative thinking. The policy framework for establishing and using the Register was set by the LGA and IoL. To support local authorities accessing the Register, NAFN worked with the LGA and IoL to create relevant data processing and sharing agreements as well as NR3 guidance and user training. NR3 was a major new operational system and it was necessary to communicate widely with all local authorities to promote the benefits and encourage buy-in.
NAFN supported the migration of historical data to the Register in order that information for the past 25 years could be held centrally for all licencing authorities. NAFN’s reputation as a trusted ‘centre of excellence’ was critical in acquiring and uploading this data. Support for organisations to both manually and electronically upload the data was also key, as they not only worked differently but have different in-house systems. Development of the technical solution cost £15,000 and the new system was launched in July 2018.
Collaborative working enabled a fully functional national business solution to be specified and delivered at minimal cost meeting the overall policy objectives. The Register has enhanced licensing and enforcement across the country improving passenger safety and increasing public trust. Early in 2018, the three stakeholders met with Daniel Zeichner MP who was seeking to promote a Private Members Bill to improve safety for passengers of taxis and private hire vehicles requiring all licensing authorities to record license refusals, revocations and suspensions on a national database. Clearly, the NR3 initiative provided the business solution to underpin the proposed legislation and Daniel was extremely supportive.
All stakeholders are delighted that the business solution provides a simple, effective and affordable response to a key national safety concern. Current direct benefits along with the collaboration of Licencing authorities outside of the register, add to the long term demand for the initiative NAFN has delivered. NR3 is a cost-effective system available to all local authorities, and to provide additional support, could be further developed as required at minimal cost.