Doug Paulley (who last year won a case in the Supreme Court over wheelchair access on Buses ) has written to DPAC with some important information about how disabled people can exercise their rights to travel on buses.
Through the Police Crime Commissioner, I’ve got West Yorkshire Police to recognise that a bus driver who refuses a wheelchair user access to an empty wheelchair space on a bus is committing a crime and should
The Police want wheelchair users to report such crimes to them. They are ready and waiting to investigate and (if appropriate) prosecute the driver.
Disabled people, bus companies and drivers should all be made aware that such crimes should be reported to the Police.
Under the same legislation (1), drivers are also under a criminal obligation:
:- to accept passengers with assistance dogs
:- to allow a wheelchair user onto the bus even if the wheelchair space is occupied, if passengers and/or their effects in that space can readily and reasonably vacate it to another part of the vehicle
:- to operate a ramp or boarding lift, including by using the manual override if an electric mechanism is broken, whenever a wheelchair user wishes to get on or off, e.g. when a wheelchair user presses the special blue button to indicate they want to get off
:- to help wheelchair users get on or off
:- to enable wheelchair users to access and leave the wheelchair space
:- to kneel the bus if they think a disabled person would benefit from it and/or if asked to do so
:- to ensure the bus is displaying the correct route number and destination.
The above duties are criminal duties on a driver, separate and additional to the duties under the Equality Act. Failure to comply with the duty may result in a driver’s criminal conviction and a fine of up to £500 and endorsements on the driving license.
I would encourage disabled people and their allies to contact other Police Forces / Police and Crime Commissioners, to encourage them to take similar proactive action.
This is a forwarded message
Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 9:16:17 AM
Subject: FW: Police action where a bus driver refuses to allow wheelchair users into empty spaces [NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED]
===8<==============Original message text===============
Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
Dear Mr Paulley,
I have heard back from West Yorkshire Police now. They have confirmed that bus drivers refusing access to wheelchair users is a summary only offence which can be enforced by the police. They have done some work to check whether any reports of this have been made to West Yorkshire Police since 1 March 2016 and cannot find any that match these exact circumstances, but there were 346 reports found with the keywords WHEELCHAIR and BUS with different circumstances.
They have said that any reports of access issues would be logged and an enquiry conducted on the evidence available. Prosecutions could subsequently be considered. The police would therefore encourage
anyone to contact the police if they believe they have been a victim of this crime.
They have acknowledged your concerns about lack of awareness of the legislation and have taken steps to ensure the Force’s Contact Centre staff are informed to ensure that any calls are handled appropriately.
I hope you find this information reassuring but please let me know if you have any further questions.
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire
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Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire Ploughland House, 62 George Street, Wakefield, WF1 1DL Visit: www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk for more information.
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