Newport Transport Limited: Prosecution of Bus Drivers under the Conduct Regulations

Doug Paulley made this Freedom of Information request to Newport Transport Limited

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The request was partially successful.

Dear Newport Transport 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

Dear Newport Transport Limited,

You should have responded to my FOI request by now. Please indicate where you're up to with it.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

Helen B, Newport Transport Limited

Dear Mr Paulley

Further to your recent Freedom of Information request received on 15th
March 2017 requesting, information as follows:

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. [1]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?

 

 

 

Please note that all the responses noted in this email relate specifically
to Newport Transport Limited only, the company has no facility or access
to information in order to log any details referred to in your request as
"area".

 

Please also note the details below refer directly to the numbering used in
your original email request noted above.

 

1. The company has no facility or access to information in order to log
any details referred to in your request as "area", however specific to
Newport Transport; as far as reasonably practicable to ascertain none.

2. As far as reasonably practicable to ascertain, none.

3. All employees are subject to the company disciplinary process. This
company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal offences.

4. All employees are subject to the company disciplinary process. This
company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal offences.

5. Any employees dealt with under the company internal disciplinary
process, dependant on the circumstances could lead to dismissal.

6. This company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal
offences.

7. The company has no facility or access to information in order to log
any details referred to in your request as "area", however specific to
Newport Transport; as far as reasonably practicable to ascertain, none.

8. The company has no facility or access to information in order to log
any details referred to in your request as "area", however specific to
Newport Transport; as far as reasonably practicable to ascertain, none.

9. The company has no facility or access to information in order to log
any details referred to in your request as "area", however specific to
Newport Transport; as far as reasonably practicable to ascertain, none.

10. This company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal
offences.

11. This company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal
offences.

12. Dependant on the circumstances any employee within the disciplinary
procedure could be dismissed.

13. This company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal
offences.

14. The company has no facility or access to information in order to log
any details referred to in your request as "area", specific to Newport
Transport this information is not logged in the format requested.

15. Dependant on the circumstances any employee within the disciplinary
procedure could be dismissed.

 

 

Regards

 

Helen Burgess

Operations Manager

 

Newport Transport Ltd

 

 

Newport Transport Ltd
160 Corporation Road
Newport
NP19 0WF

[2]www.newportbus.co.uk  

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU9I8mJB
2. http://www.newportbus.co.uk/

Dear Helen B,

Thank you for this, but I think you've considered my information request too narrowly.

For example, in response to:

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

You responded:

"3. All employees are subject to the company disciplinary process. This company has no jurisdiction over prosecution for criminal offences."

That doesn't provide the information I'm requesting.

I'm assuming you have procedures by which you report employees to prosecuting authorities, e.g. the police or the traffic commissioners, where they have committed a criminal offence. For example, if CCTV shows a driver has assaulted a member of the public, or a driver has driven a bus whilst drunk, or whatever, I should imagine you'd have statutory duties to report such to organisations that do have a function in the criminal prosecution system, and as such you have a procedure to do so.

Drivers refusing wheelchair users access where the wheelchair space is empty, refusing to operate the ramp to allow access or egress of a wheelchair user or refusing to offer assistance are similarly committing a criminal offence. I want to know how you identify situations in which a driver has committed this criminal offence and ensure your company makes the relevant report with the appropriate evidence.

I strongly suspect that the company either isn't aware that this is a criminal offence or has never identified that they should report occurrences of such offences, such that the company has never made such a report. If this is the case, please confirm this and tell me:

1) how you determine which criminal offences your company should or will report and which it won't

2) why you don't report drivers' crimes under the conduct regulations.

One can take action to ensure drivers are punished in accordance with the law without prosecuting the driver oneself.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley