A PRIVATE hire taxi driver from Accrington was caught plying for hire after picking up two undercover police officers without a pre-booking.

Muhammad Mahfooz, of College Street, Accrington, was ordered to pay £1,000 after pleading guilty to plying for hire in an unlicenced vehicle, and for driving without insurance.

The 34-year-old was caught after picking up the two officers, who were wearing plaint clothes, in Union Road, Oswaldtwistle.

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for licensing, Coun Joan Smith, said: “Our primary concern is for the welfare of the travelling public. Private hire vehicles cannot ply for hire in the street or at taxi ranks, and this most recent prosecution reinforces the clear message that journeys with a private hire vehicle must always be pre-booked through the operator.

“Failure to do so is an offence and invalidates the vehicle’s insurance cover. If you flag down a private hire vehicle in the street, the insurance will be invalid for the duration of your journey. Please don’t take the risk.”

Mahfooz was fined £200 for plying for hire and £330 for having no insurance. He was also given six points, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30, and told to pay costs of £440.