A Scottish Council has admitted that almost half its taxi drivers have criminal records – including one with two convictions for indecent exposure.
Others include convictions of domestic abuse and assaulting a police officer. One driver has been convicted of assault four times.
Scottish Borders Council released the figures under freedom of information legislation showing that in 2017, of the 385 taxi and private-hire licences granted in the Borders, 155 were given to people who had prior convictions.
Alarmingly, most of the crimes were committed behind the wheel of a car.
Speeding offences account for a number of the convictions, but several others are for serious motoring incidents such as driving without insurance and drink driving.
One licence holder was convicted of causing criminal damage by driving over a golf course. Another was convicted of carrying a pistol in public and yet another for wilful fire raising.
The council does not hold committee meetings in public, which means that drivers with criminal convictions were granted their licences behind closed doors.
A spokesman for the council said that the protection of applicants’ personal data outweighed the public interest of revealing if licence holders have previous convictions.
He added: “As set out in the protocol and as required by the 1982 Civic Government Act, all applications are referred to Police Scotland.
“There are no set criteria, and each application is considered on its individual merits. This includes applications for renewal.
“The 155 taxi licences with convictions have at some point been considered by the licensing committee.
“The bulk of those licences issued are renewals where there have been no new convictions. For example, a licence is granted by the committee after they have considered an applicant’s previous convictions. If the same applicant has no further convictions, there is no basis for the committee to consider their renewal application.”
The spokesperson continued: “For more serious offences, it is likely that the police would object to any application, which will then need to be considered by the licensing committee.”
It emerged earlier this year that a similar proportion of taxi drivers across Scotland have criminal convictions.
The research showed that 62 licences in Glasgow were obtained despite police objection.
Annie Wells, Conservative MSP for Glasgow, said at the time: “Driving a taxi is a noble profession that carries huge responsibility.”
“No one is saying having any kind of criminal record should automatically exclude people from being able to drive a cab. But the sheer proportion of drivers in some areas who have a record is alarming.
“It is unacceptable that some of the offences revealed here have not stood in the way of people securing a council licence.”