Lothian Buses Limited: Prosecution of Bus Drivers under the Conduct Regulations

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Dear Lothian Buses Limited,

S24(2) of the Public Passengers Vehicle Act 1981 makes failure to comply with the Conduct Regulations a criminal offence "liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale" (£500) "and, in the case of an offence by a person acting as driver of a public service vehicle, the court by which he is convicted may, if it thinks fit, cause particulars of the conviction to be endorsed upon the counterpart of the licence granted to that person under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or, as the case may be, the counterpart (if any) of his Community licence".

The Conduct Regulations refer to, amongst others, The Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) (Amendment) Regulations 2002. These include the following requirements:

"Where a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle, a driver and a conductor shall first safely deploy (subject to regulation 15(1) (duties requiring the proper functioning of equipment)) any boarding lift, boarding ramp or portable ramp in its correct operating position.

"Where a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle and requests assistance to do so, a driver and a conductor shall provide assistance to him."

It is therefore a criminal offence for a bus driver to fail to operate a ramp when a wheelchair user indicates he or she wishes to get off the bus.

Buses with wheelchair spaces have special buttons that indicate that a wheelchair user requires the ramp to be fitted. These make an unignorable siren noise and light a special light on the driver's dashboard. This is a clear indication that "a wheelchair user wishes to board or to alight from a Schedule 1 vehicle" and so any driver failing to deploy the ramp is committing a crime punishable by a £500 fine and an endorsement on their license.

Yet such crimes are frequent. I am aware that one London resident wheelchair user alone has recently had this happen to him on over 70 separate occasions; many of which he has supplied video evidence for - e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU9I8mJB... . I have no reason to suppose that such incidents do not occur in your area. An occasional slip by a driver may be understandable (though I think that's debateable given the siren noise and the light!) but the frequency of this occurence makes it clear that this is a systematic failing.

I want to know please:

1) How many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to operate the ramp in such situations in the past year?
2) How many complaints have you had about drivers' failure to comply with their criminal duty to operate the ramp in the past year?
3) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this specific are punished according to the law?
4) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting them or instigating such prosecutions?
5) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
6) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

S11 of the same Conduct Regulations places the following criminal obligation on drivers.

"(2) If there is an unoccupied wheelchair space on the vehicle, a driver and a conductor shall allow a wheelchair user to board if—
"(a) the wheelchair is of a type or size that can be correctly and safely located in that wheelchair space, and
"(b) in so doing, neither the maximum seating nor standing capacity of the vehicle would be exceeded.
"(3) For the purpose of paragraph (2), a wheelchair space is occupied if—
"(a) there is a wheelchair user in that space; or
"(b) passengers or their effects are in that space and they or their effects cannot readily and reasonably vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle."

I am aware of multiple occasions in which bus drivers have failed to comply with their criminal law duty to allow wheelchair users to board the bus, sometimes even failing to stop at the bus stop, when the wheelchair space is unoccupied or where the wheelchair space is occupied but the passengers and their effects could potentially readily and reasonably vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle. This is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of £500 and an endorsement on the driver's license.

Please provide the following information in relation to this crime.

7) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though the wheelchair space is physically empty?
8) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though passengers and/or their effects in the wheelchair space could readily and easily move to another part of the bus?
9) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board, without the driver investigating to determine whether passengers or their effects occupying the wheelchair space could reasily and easily vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle?
10) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this area are punished according to the law?
11) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting them or instigating such prosecutions?
12) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
13) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

As a comparator, please tell me:

14) How many bus drivers in your area have been prosecuted for other criminal offences committed whilst driving, for e.g. speeding, jumping the lights, stopping in boxed junctions and similar, in the past year?
15) What is the impact on drivers of such prosecutions?

Thankyou

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

foisa, Lothian Buses Limited

Dear Mr Paulley

Acknowledgement of Information Request

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your email of 14 March 2017,
received by us on 15 March 2017, in which you make a Freedom Of
Information Request in the following terms:

I want to know please:

1) How many drivers in your area have been prosecuted for failing to
operate the ramp in such situations in the past year?
2) How many complaints have you had about drivers' failure to comply with
their criminal duty to operate the ramp in the past year?
3) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this specific are punished
according to the law?
4) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting them
or instigating such prosecutions?
5) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
6) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting
drivers that have committed this crime.

S11 of the same Conduct Regulations places the following criminal
obligation on drivers.

"(2) If there is an unoccupied wheelchair space on the vehicle, a driver
and a conductor shall allow a wheelchair user to board if‹
"(a) the wheelchair is of a type or size that can be correctly and safely
located in that wheelchair space, and
"(b) in so doing, neither the maximum seating nor standing capacity of the
vehicle would be exceeded.
"(3) For the purpose of paragraph (2), a wheelchair space is occupied if‹
"(a) there is a wheelchair user in that space; or
"(b) passengers or their effects are in that space and they or their
effects cannot readily and reasonably vacate it by moving to another part
of the vehicle."

I am aware of multiple occasions in which bus drivers have failed to
comply with their criminal law duty to allow wheelchair users to board the
bus, sometimes even failing to stop at the bus stop, when the wheelchair
space is unoccupied or where the wheelchair space is occupied but the
passengers and their effects could potentially readily and reasonably
vacate it by moving to another part of the vehicle. This is a criminal
offence punishable by a fine of £500 and an endorsement on the driver's
license.

Please provide the following information in relation to this crime.

7) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted
for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though the wheelchair
space is physically empty?
8) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted
for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board even though passengers
and/or their effects in the wheelchair space could readily and easily move
to another part of the bus?
9) In the last year, how many drivers in your area have been prosecuted
for failing to allow a wheelchair user to board, without the driver
investigating to determine whether passengers or their effects occupying
the wheelchair space could reasily and easily vacate it by moving to
another part of the vehicle?
10) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this area are punished
according to the law?
11) How many times do you give warnings to a driver before prosecuting
them or instigating such prosecutions?
12) What impact does such prosecution have on a driver's career?
13) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and
prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

As a comparator, please tell me:

14) How many bus drivers in your area have been prosecuted for other
criminal offences committed whilst driving, for e.g. speeding, jumping the
lights, stopping in boxed junctions and similar, in the past year?
15) What is the impact on drivers of such prosecutions?

Lothian Buses is a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and must respond to your request
within 20 working days. This means that you will receive a response from
us no later than 12 April 2017.

Sincerely,

Clare Bridson

On 14/03/2017, 21:23, "Doug Paulley"
<[FOI #395236 email]> wrote:

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foisa, Lothian Buses Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Paulley
Please find attached our formal response to your recent Freedom of
Information request.
Sincerely,
Clare Bridson
Lothian Buses

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Dear foisa,

Thank you for the information.

You don't state under what circumstances you report things to the police or to other law enforcement bodies, however. The disciplinary procedure you provided doesn't tell me.

This affects elements 3, 6, 10 and 13 of my request:

"3) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this specific are punished according to the law?

"6) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime.

"10) How do you ensure that drivers' crimes in this area are punished according to the law?

"13) Please supply your procedure for identifying, reporting and prosecuting drivers that have committed this crime."

I acknowledge that you don't prosecute drivers yourselves. However what I am asking is what your procedure is for reporting such crimes to bodies which may prosecute.

I don't work in the bus industry but I should imagine there are occasions where you're required to report drivers' potential or alleged crimes, or where you choose to do so as it's the responsible thing. For example, if there's evidence that a driver may have been drinking before or on duty, or a tachograph shows significant speeding, or whatever. So presumably you do have criteria for when you report things to the police / the traffic commissioners / any commissioning authority / the DVSA so they can investigate and prosecute if they think it's appropriate.

Are you saying that you never report drivers who are alleged to have committed the criminal offence of breaking the conduct regulations and thus the Public Passenger Vehicle Act 1981?

If so: why do you not do so, when (presumably) you report other allegations of drivers criminal behavior to the police?

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley