Private hire car operators in Glasgow will now have the option to install safety screen partitions in their vehicles as protection against assaults and violent attacks.
Safety screens were previously permitted as a temporary measure to protect drivers from Covid, but a decision by Glasgow City Council’s licensing and regulatory committee on Sunday means that vehicle operators will now be able to install them indefinitely.
Guidance outlining the exact construction materials screens should be made from and installation methods to ensure screens are being fitted safely have been approved by the city’s licensing chiefs, which private hire car licence holders must follow if they are to install a screen.
The guidance requires that vehicle owners notify the council that they are installing a screen and they provide the council with proof the screen has not invalidated the vehicle’s insurance policy.
The Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA) has been campaigning for the proposal and lobbying for the policy to be adopted.
John Paul Duffy, the west of Scotland branch chair of the SPHA, said: “We’ve been campaigning on issues of driver safety and as part of that we asked Glasgow City Council to grant drivers the permission to keep screens in their cars long term and beyond Covid to be able to increase on-the-job safety.
“The decision is a major success for our campaign and a major success for private hire drivers across the city who are looking for ways to better protect themselves while at work.”
According to the SPHA, as outlined in their case to the council, the main hurdle in gaining the option to install safety screens seemed to be that, historically, a lack of guidance on how to do so safely had prevented councils from granting permission.
The association claimed that this was no longer the case as during the Covid pandemic, the Scottish Government had issued safety guidance.
Mr Duffy added: “During the pandemic councils said they couldn’t allow partitions in private hire cars because they required guidance from the Scottish Government to be published on how it could be done safely.
“The Scottish Government then published safety guidance which led to councils granting car owners the ability to install screens. Our case was that now that guidance has been published on how to install screens safely, we can extend that very same guidance to allow drivers the ability to install safety screens not just to protect themselves from virus transmission, but also from being violently attacked.
“Over the past few months, the SPHA has also been working with the Scottish Government so that this guidance, which is now permanently in place in Glasgow, be adopted nationally as a matter of best practice for the trade.”
Eddie Grice, the general secretary of the SPHA, said: “The decision by Glasgow City Council’s licensing and regulatory committee will be heavily applauded by members of the SPHA and by private hire drivers throughout the city.
“With their decision to allow private hire car licence holders the option to install safety screens for general protection they have shown that the council do take issues of driver safety just as seriously as they take issues of public safety.
“Over and above that though, the councillors on the committee have now delivered on a promise made during the recent council election campaign.
“They have also been delivering on their promise to engage with the trade with an ‘open door’ policy. councillors and licensing officers have made themselves available to trade reps here at the SPHA and with others.
“Other licensing authorities around the country should now be looking at Glasgow City Council for inspiration, and on that point we are calling on all other council areas in Scotland to follow Glasgow’s lead and also grant private hire car owners the ability to install safety screens in their vehicles for general safety and security purposes.”
Glasgow City Council has been contacted for comment.