GLASGOW taxi drivers are calling for tougher laws against pirating to be introduced in the city.

They believe pirating, where private hire car drivers pick someone up off the street who hasn’t pre-booked a lift, should be made a criminal offence leading to court action instead of appearing at the council’s licensing committee.

Taxi drivers are asking the City Council to look at measures taken in England, including Birmingham, where an enforcement officer works with police to catch cab drivers committing offences.

Representatives from the local authority will attend the Taxi and PHV Licensing Policy Updates and Best Practices conference in London at the end of the month to discuss how situations like these can be prevented.

Speaking about the issue Steven Grant, secretary of the Glasgow CAB Section of Unite the Union, said: “In Glasgow there is a lot of potential for crime. Drivers who pirate ask people for ridiculous sums of money.

“When you see them in front of the licensing committee for pirating, they are not even being charged with a criminal offence.

“We don’t believe a four-week suspension is enough and does not act as a deterrent. But if someone gets six penalty points on their licence for pirating they are less likely to do it again.”

Calum Anderson, chairman of the Glasgow CAB Section, added: “These people are willing to break the law and the council know this is a problem.

“This is something which needs addressed. We believe taking those who pirate to court is the way forward.

“Most motorists have three penalty points on their licence. If private hire drivers are caught pirating and given six more penalty points as a result, they won’t be able to get insurance to allow them to drive.

“We don’t think we will stamp it out completely but tougher punishments may act as a deterrent.”

Councillor Alex Wilson will attend a conference in London which looks at the latest changes to licensing policy as well as discussing public safety and what other measures can be taken to improve this.

Mr Wilson said: “It is not our job to limit the number of private hires, it is our job to protect public health and safety. I am attending the conference in London this month.

“We will be looking to see what is and isn’t working. “