A County Durham man has been ordered to pay over £800 after operating a private hire vehicle without having a current private hire operators' licence.
We took legal action against Kyle Stones, of Priors Grange, High Pittington, after receiving information that a taxi company was advertising on Facebook, possibly without the required licence.
When officers checked its taxi database with the telephone number advertised, it matched the number given in Stones' driver application to become a licensed driver with us.
However, the 21-year-old had not completed the process and had withdrawn his application in November last year.
Enforcement officers telephoned the advertised number, in March of this year, and they were able to make a booking for a vehicle to collect them from Durham and take them to Newcastle Airport.
When the vehicle arrived, it displayed a Newcastle Private Hire Plate Number. Subsequent enquiries with Newcastle City Council confirmed that Stones was a licensed private hire driver with a licensed vehicle, but that he did not hold a private hire operators' licence.
The law requires that all private hire vehicles can only be booked via a private hire operator. It also states that the private hire operator, private hire driver and private hire vehicle must all be licensed and licensed with the same operator.
Stones, who refused to attend an interview with us and did not attend Peterlee Magistrates Court, pleaded guilty by post to operating a vehicle without a private hire operators' licence.
He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £650 costs and £34 victim surcharge, totalling £884.
Joanne Waller, our head of community protection, said: "Legislation ensures proper processes and safeguards are in place so that the public can have confidence in the private hire trade. It is therefore vital that private hire operators have the correct licence.
"We hope this case serves as a warning to anyone else who is considering operating as a private hire operator without having the necessary licence, as we will take action against anyone who does not meet these requirements."