Report by the Public Protection Manager (attached).
The Committee considered a report on the Introduction of a Draft Drugs Testing Policy for New and Existing Licensed Drivers, (circulated previously), by the Public Protection Manager.
The Public Protection Manager advised the Committee that due to a number of driver licence revocations recently because of drug misuse it was decided a Drug testing Policy was required which would set out the behaviours the Council expected of its licensed drivers.
Lee Staples, Environmental Health and Licensing Practitioner highlighted the following:
· Of the 256 licensed drivers in North Devon, three licensed drivers had had their licenses revoked during 2022 following a positive drugs test undertaken by the Police.
· A drugs focussed newsletter was sent out to the licensed trade highlighting the issue in January 2023.
· A Policy, which permitted the Council to test applicants and licensed drivers for the misuse of drugs, would act as a deterrent.
· There were two options being presented to members, as shown at Appendix A and B of the report, as well as a request to run a six-week consultation with the trade, stakeholders, the public and anyone who had an interest in taxis.
The Environmental Health and Licensing Practitioner gave the following responses to questions:
· The Policy options did not include alcohol testing but was something that could be considered as part of a consultation.
· The Council would be notified by the Police when a driver had been found guilty of a driving offence but with delays in the information being passed to the Council the authority had introduced the necessity for the driver to notify of any changes to their licence. Not notifying the Council would result in disciplinary action.
· The majority of illegal drugs were still detectable up to three days or more following consumption. The Council would notify a driver to attend for testing within a 48-hour period.
· New applicants and existing licence holders found to be guilty of an offence would pay for the cost of a drugs test, whereas, the cost of a random request to attend a drugs test would fall to the Council.
· The additional cost of drugs testing would equate to roughly £11 per license.
· The costings to add in the testing of alcohol would need to be reported at a future Licensing and Community Safety Committee.
(a) Option 2, shown at Appendix B of the report, be approved for consultation subject to the following amendments:
(I) Random alcohol testing to be carried out; and
(II) Licensed drivers to be tested within 24 hours of being requested to attend a random drugs or alcohol test by the Licensing Officer.
(b) The Licensing Service begin a formal consultation on Option 2, as shown at Appendix B of the report,
(c) A six-week consultation exercise be carried out with the ‘taxi and private hire trade’, general public and anybody or person with an interest in taxis and private hire drivers/vehicles; and
(d) Proposed amendments to the policy resulting from the consultation and review process be presented to the Licensing and Community Safety Committee.