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16 November 2010

Driving out the rogues

MINISTERS SEND OUT CLEAR MESSAGE TO GANGSTERS

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill will today announce plans for a new scheme aimed at highlighting the responsible and reputable companies within the taxi and private hire car trade.

The announcement - which will allow customers to make an informed choice about their transportation provider - will be made as Mr MacAskill addresses the first ever summit in Scotland to discuss the threat that serious organised crime gangs pose to the trade.

The summit - organised jointly by the Scottish Government, COSLA and ACPOS - will bring together law enforcement and local authority representatives to share intelligence and information to help thwart gangsters intent on using the trade as a front for money laundering, drug dealing and other serious criminal activities.

The development of a taxi accreditation scheme - membership of which would provide reassurance to customers and the wider public that firms had met a number of key criteria - will draw on the expertise and success of other successful accreditation schemes such as the Security Industry Authority's Approved Contactor Scheme.

Mr MacAskill said:

"The fact is that many of Scotland's criminal gangs use - or try to use - a number of respectable businesses as a front for serious criminal activity.

"The taxi or private hire car trade is not alone - but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it is particularly vulnerable to money laundering given the nature of its business transactions.

"We want to protect the integrity of the taxi and private hire car trade. We want to ensure that only legitimate firms get business, whether it be through contacts with the public or private sector, or from hard-working individuals.

"Today's summit will be a key part of the implementation the Serious Organised Crime Strategy and will help to raise awareness amongst participants of the existence and scale of organised crime groups within the taxi and private hire car industry and will provide a better understanding of the extent to which criminality within the trade is recognised by licensing authorities as an issue across Scotland.

"The development of a taxi industry accreditation scheme is the kind of measure that would provide reassurance to customers about the people they are doing business with, while ensuring hard-working, law abiding taxi drivers are not being driven off the road by rogues with links to organised crime."

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson
will also give the closing address at today's summit.
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