Bosses at the taxi app company Uber are anxiously waiting to find out whether their application for a licence to operate in London again has been granted. It’s hard to believe that Uber only started operating in the UK in 2012, having launched first in San Francisco two years earlier. Although initially offering rides all over the UK capital, Uber had its licence withdrawn in 2017 after worries about the way they were checking up on their drivers. If Uber regains the right to operate in the capital, are you safe getting into an Uber cab?


Working For Uber

For drivers, Uber is marketed as a great way of earning a bit of extra cash, or indeed for making a full-time income. The “gig economy”, where people work a range of different jobs on a self-employed basis, is booming in the UK with some figures estimating that as many as 10% of all UK workers are involved in the gig economy. Uber’s own figures state that they have 40,000 drivers in London, and over 3 million customers too. Uber drivers get work through an app, and indicate when they’re available and free to work. Before starting picking up customers, Uber checks up on the background of all of their drivers and requires a roadworthiness test for the car too.


DBS Checks for Uber Drivers

Although Uber’s main selling point is that it is different from all other taxi companies, that doesn’t mean that they can opt out of the checking and licensing requirements around the country. Taxi licensing is managed by local Councils, and although there is a lot of variation around the country, the basic idea is the same. Local councils have a licensing process for all prospective cab drivers which usually includes:

  • English language test
  • Verification of driving skills
  • Car roadworthiness test
  • Enhanced DBS check

The enhanced DBS check for Uber and other taxi drivers is of critical importance to ensure the safety of passengers. An enhanced DBS check is the most detailed level of check and will reveal not only current, unspent convictions and cautions, but also older convictions or intelligence on the police database which might be related to being a taxi driver. The idea behind enhanced disclosure checks is to make sure people who have a history of sexual or violent crime can’t get jobs driving people home.


Using Uber

Whatever city you’re in, Uber wants you to be sure that you’re getting into a car with a safe driver. Their app gives more information than a traditional taxi website, in that you can find out who is picking you up and read reviews from previous passengers. Knowing that all Uber drivers also have an enhanced DBS should also add to this sense of security from a passenger point of view. However, from a driver point of view, starting work with Uber isn’t as simple as registering with the app and getting behind the wheel of your car. There are a few more hoops to jump through first.