Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council – NAFN Data & Intelligence Services

National Register of Revocations, Refusals and Suspensions (NR3S) 

Legacy and Progression

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).

NAFN led collaborative working between the key stakeholders including extensive consultation with local authorities across the country and a specification was agreed. The simple objective of the National Register was to ensure that authorities were able to take properly informed decisions on whether an applicant is fit and proper, in the knowledge that another authority has previously reached a negative view on the same applicant. This could be achieved by providing a mechanism for licensing authorities to be able to check whether an individual has had a licence refused or revoked. Whenever a licensing authority processes a new application for a hackney carriage/PHV driver’s licence, or for a renewal, it would be able to check the Register at a suitably early stage of the process to confirm whether the applicant was subject to a previous licensing decision that they should be aware of.

The register was created to foster collaboration and effective information sharing to ensure the statutory duty to safeguard the public was carried out to the best of a licensing authority’s ability.

This being said, the use of the register was voluntary. Most licensing authorities accessed the register voluntary and as awareness of this innovative service rose, so did the number of registered users – 65% (129 to 366) in the first half of 2019. In late 2021, the Department for Transport made contact to advise a Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill was to be put before parliament. This bill was intended to mandate the use of a register to search and record all taxi and private hire vehicle licence revocations, refusals and suspensions.

We identified 298 Licensing authorities within England and Wales, 100% of of which were NAFN Members as at 01 April 2023. There were over 1,000 registered NR3 users who had made 11,000 entries and 84,000 searches – that’s 330 every day.

The Private Members Taxi and PHV Safeguarding Bill sponsored by Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, passed the House of Commons Committee Stage, the House of Lords and was passed as the Taxi and Private Hire Licence (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Act 2022. Whilst we always hoped this would be the outcome, we are extremely proud that an initiative borne out of necessity has been so widely used on a voluntary basis, the benefits have been recognised in central government to the extent that legislation was created to mandate its use.

To ensure it met the requirements of the legislation, the register had to be updated to include suspensions, additional mandatory fields, for example national insurance numbers, the retention period was reduced to 11 years and the role of NAFN was deemed to be Joint Data controller. We could not forget our members outside of England who also accessed the register but were not affected by the legislation passed for Licensing Authorities in England. In order to continue to provide access to the NR3 for those users, the system had to recognised the location of the licensing authority and ensure the applicable fields were made mandatory, the retention period remained 25 years and the role of NAFN was covered by a data sharing and processing agreement. The changes resulted in the production of new training and national guidance for England whilst assuring the remaining licensing authorities in the UK that their access would be uninterrupted.


Level of Impact

Since the initial submission, the NR3 has become the NR3S (in England) and its use is mandated for all licensing authorities in England. The letter from the Secretary of State issued 27 April 2023, advised all the designated host of the register would be NAFN. Through negotiations with the Department for Transport, we agreed a sum for access to the register in order that all licensing authorities could fulfil their statutory duty.

The foresight of NAFN and its partner LGA has ensured the vast majority of licensing authorities are ready for this legislative change and already versed in uploading to a central register and conducting searches to grant or renew applicants with a driver licence. Where a search results in data previously entered by a licensing authority, the searching authority is already able to request the relevant information to help making an informed decision on whether to grant a licence or not. The benefits have significantly mitigated the likelihood of licences permitted to those failing the fit and proper test. Wide reaching benefits include:

  • Improved national standards and good practice
  • Effective data sharing and intelligence
  • Enhanced national awareness on checks and controls
  • Cost-effective central register available to all local authorities that can be further developed as required
  • Greater confidence and enhanced public safety.

We have recorded over over 375,000 searches of the NR3S database since 2020, with almost 160,000 in 2023 (up to oct) alone. At just under 30,000 searches in 2020, the impact of the register has been recognised as searches increase year upon year. This means local people in areas throughout England and Wales are benefiting from the use of the NR3S, as licensing teams have further enhanced their already robust decision making to ensure all drivers are fit and proper. Fundamentally, an unfit driver previously refused, revoked or suspended, can no longer operate in an area after applying for a licence from a neighbouring borough unaware of their penalty.

As more records are uploaded the NR3S increases in effectiveness. With over 19,000 entries, its clear local areas daily from this initiative. Just one of the reasons for such wide participation is the need to protect local people and safeguard some of the most vulnerable in our local communities. These people are often the most susceptible to unscrupulous drivers and may potentially become victims of fraud and crime. As a result of implementing the national register we have provided for wider societal benefits, with the potential to reduce other crimes perpetrated by those individuals, for example sexual misconduct with passengers, financial crimes and more.

NAFN host and co-chair the National NR3S User Group attended by 22 LAs, Transport for London, LGA and Department for Transport. The group provides a forum for feedback, technical improvements and enhancements to increase the benefits of the NR3S to the licensing authorities. This ongoing commitment to continual improvement is evidence of the benefits to local communities. This same group recently met to discuss the possibility of producing a register for personal alcohol licences and all personal licences, so the expertise is wide ranging and is impacting other areas of licensing, where a similar approach may be adopted. Communication with the Home Office is ongoing regarding this in addition to other registers such as scrap metal, non-surgical cosmetic procedures and taxi operators.

The need to regulate and provide a way for licensing authorities to collaborate and share information to safeguard the public has been proven by the development and on going impact of the NR3S. We were proud of our initiative in the original submission and equally proud of the commitment licensing authorities had to using the NR3 on a voluntary basis. We are even more proud to be the chosen host of the database, which seemed right given the effectiveness of the existing register. The NR3S continues to grow and provide further efficiencies for users, with automated data protection requests and match notifications for legacy searches. Every effort is being made to ensure the lasting impact of the NR3S and use the learning to enhance the delivery of any future registers.


Additional Evidence or Information Legislation


NR3S Case Study

Southampton City Council

Russell Hawkins, Senior Licensing Officer

Demonstrating: Public Safety and Safeguarding and Effective Data Sharing

In September 2022, Southampton City Council’s Licensing Department received reports that a taxi driver had assaulted another driver at a taxi rank. The complaint was investigated, and a report made to the Licensing Manager. Such was the weight of evidence and the history of complaints regarding this driver, delegated powers were used by the manager to revoke his licence with immediate effect. An appropriate record of this action was made on the NAFN NR3S database.

The driver submitted an appeal against the revocation that, at the time of writing, is pending hearing at the Magistrates Court. Two months later, Southampton City Council received a data request from Winchester City Council. They had carried out a check on a new applicant for a taxi driver’s licence and NR3S had shown that a record of an action by Southampton City Council existed for this driver.

Winchester sent a data request and the revocation decision document was returned by Southampton and a dialogue entered into. It was established that the driver had not declared the revocation on the application to Winchester. Winchester’s Licensing Officer interviewed the applicant who stated that the revocation was many years ago and no longer relevant. However, when the decision notice was shown to the applicant, he admitted that he had concealed it from them hoping that they would not find out. The applicant then withdrew his application.

On request, the Winchester Licensing Officer supplied a witness statement to Southampton disclosing the application form as an exhibit. In addition, they gave a narrative to the interview between the driver and the Winchester Licensing Officer. This evidence will be used at the appeal to demonstrate that the driver was trying to obtain a licence by dishonesty, giving strength to the defence of the appeal.

Department of Transport letter from the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP

Dear Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Authorities,

 On 31 March 2022, the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Act 2022 received Royal Assent. The Act places duties on licensing authorities to improve information-sharing regarding taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. Some of the duties came into force on 31 May 2022. My department has been working to bring the remaining duties which require licensing authorities to use a licensing information database to record refusals, suspensions and revocations of taxi and private hire vehicle driver licences into force. The Act enables me to either provide the database or to designate a person to do so.

I am pleased to announce that my department has reached an agreement to designate the National Anti-Fraud Network as the database provider under Section 4(1)(a) of the Act. The National Anti-Fraud Network’s database, the National Register for Revocations, Refusals and Suspensions (NR3S), has been in use successfully for several years and use of it is recommended in the Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which licensing authorities must have regard to. As a result, the vast majority of licensing authorities, including your own, already have access to the NR3S.

Furthermore, to assist with this new mandatory requirement, I am pleased to announce that my department is covering the cost of access to the NR3S. All licensing authorities will be given access to the NR3S for free. If your authority is not consistently using the NR3S, you should review your processes to enable your authority to comply with the law when it comes into effect.

I intend to commence the remaining provisions of the Act on 27 April 2023 to give those final few authorities who do not currently have access to the NR3S time to put the appropriate processes in place. When the remaining duties on licensing authorities come into force, all licensing authorities will be required to use the NR3S to record taxi and private hire vehicle driver licences that have been refused, suspended or revoked for safeguarding or road safety reasons. The statutory guidance issued to licensing authorities in May 2022 to support them in complying with the Act will be updated to reflect these new duties.

Finally, I would like to thank those licensing authorities who have been actively using the NR3S in recent years on a voluntary basis. This has ensured that more authorities have more of the information needed to make correct decisions to effectively regulate the taxi and private hire vehicle trades and protect the travelling public. If you need any assistance relating to accessing or using the NR3S, please contact licencehelp@nafn.gov.uk.