Request ID: FOI-1355-1920
Date published: 09 October 2019
Since the current short term licence was issued for private hire operator Uber London ltd
(1) can you inform me how many compliance/pre licence inspections have TFL conducted
(2) supply me with copies of those inspection reports
TfL Ref: 1355-1920
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 6 August 2019 asking for information about compliance/pre licence inspections. I apologise for the delay in replying.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm that we hold the information you require.
However in accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply copies of the inspection reports as it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 31(1)(g), which relates to information where disclosure would be likely to prejudice the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes listed in subsection 31(2) of the FOI Act, specifically, ‘(2)(c)the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise’.
In this instance the exemption has been applied as the information is held by TfL in its role as regulator for the purposes of ascertaining whether a Private Hire operator is complying with the regulations, in accordance with our responsibility for regulating the private hire trade in London. This information contains details which otherwise would not have been made available to us and the exemption applies to protect our ability to clarify and confirm details on specific issues regarding general licensing concerns. The prejudice would be caused by disclosure because it would affect our ability to engage with the taxi and private hire trade and would inhibit the free flow of information, particularly where there is disclosure of information about confidential and commercially sensitive data. Effective working between the trade and the regulator relies on a safe space where information can be shared at a sufficiently early stage to avoid the need for formal enforcement action. This benefits the public as it enables greater oversight of private hire operators and better scrutiny of services by the regulator and our benefit because proactive discussion avoids costly enforcement activity, delayed access to information and increased bureaucracy.
Disclosure in these circumstances would be likely to prejudice our ability to exercise our regulatory functions efficiently and effectively, particularly in the context of investigations, as the investigated party would be less likely to co-operate if a running commentary or detailed commercially sensitive material were to be given out through FOI disclosures. Effective working between the trade and the regulator relies on a safe space where information can be shared at a sufficiently early stage, which may avoid the need for formal enforcement action. Even if enforcement action is required, the relatively free exchange of information is useful to all parties.
We acknowledge that there is a public interest in understanding the scope of regulatory activity, and whether concerns have been sufficiently addressed, we consider that the balance of the public interest supports the use of these exemptions in order to enable the effective and timely sharing of information between TfL and the taxi and private hire trade. There is also a very strong public interest in preserving TfL’s ability to act as an effective regulator (through the sharing of information), which ensures that the services offered by the trade are safe and compliant.
For more information please see the following Information Commissioners Decision Notice upholding the use of s31 https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2018/2259192/fs50717678.pdf
If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.
FOI Case Management Team
Transport for London
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