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UNLAWFUL: Watford taxi driver prosecuted after refusing entry to a guide dog

 Published on: 4th August 2020   |   By: News Bulletin   |   Category: Uncategorized

Watford Borough Council has successfully prosecuted a taxi driver who denied a visually impaired customer access to his vehicle because they had a guide dog with them.

On December 16 last year, Watford Borough Council received a complaint about Mr Hussain, who is licensed by the council as a Private Hire driver. 

He was accused of refusing to honour a booking made by a customer because they were accompanied by a guide dog.

The council licensing team investigated the allegation and decided to prosecute.

It is an offence under the Equality Act 2010 for a driver to refuse or decline to take a customer who is accompanied by an assistance dog unless the driver has an exemption certificate issued by the council.

Mr Hussain pleaded guilty at Stevenage Magistrates Court on Friday, July 17.

Councillor Glen Saffery, chair of the Licensing Committee said: “Watford’s taxis and minicabs must be accessible and welcoming to our whole community. It has been a criminal offence to refuse to carry a guide dog for 25 years. 

“This type of offence has a huge impact on a person’s confidence to travel and the council will robustly investigate all such complaints and take appropriate action against drivers found to be acting in this way.”

The prosecution follows a similar case last year where another Watford licensed driver had his licence revoked following a refusal to carry a passenger accompanied by a guide dog.

Leigh Hutchings, chairman of Disability Watford said: “Disability Watford has campaigned for access for people with a disability for many years and we are glad to hear that a private hire driver has been taken to court and found guilty of not treating an assistance dog owner like any other passenger. 

“Not enough assistance dog owners take drivers to court, which does make it seem this is only an occasional offence where that is so far from the truth. 

“This happens to so many people each year locally and across the country and unfortunately most of these incidents are not reported.”

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