Police concerns over stretch limousine safety

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The Independent Online

Police have raised concerns about the safety of stretch limousines, warning of fears that their passengers risk being "spilt out on to one of our roads".

Officers have also warned that some of the vehicles are being driven by "unsavoury" individuals amid claims that some businesses are a front for organised crime.

The BBC claimed that a police operation had uncovered drug dealing, money laundering and car-ringing activities among limousine firms.

Their claims follow investigations by more than 20 police forces - led by the National Roads Policing Intelligence Forum - over the last month.

Forum chairman Chief Supt Geraint Anwel told the BBC: "Our concerns are that with every passing day the possibility of these vehicles falling apart increases significantly.

"We have seen, on a number off occasions, some pretty unsavoury people driving or inside these vehicles

"It won't be long before we see the contents of these vehicles being spilt out on to one of our roads."

The industry is currently unregulated and Chief Supt Anwel said drivers were not subject to Criminal Record Bureau checks.

"We have seen, on a number of occasions, some pretty unsavoury people driving or inside these vehicles who wouldn't normally be in a position where they'd be able to be with young children in party situations."

Harvey Muxlow, chairman of the National Limousine Association, said he shared the police's concerns and had been seeking to "clean up the operations".

"There are an immense amount of respectable, legal operations out there," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It's a shame that just a few are going to spoil it for the many."

The National Limousine Association had been asking the Department for Transport for assistance, he said, but they "haven't been very helpful".

Mr Muxlow added: "We have been actually lobbying the Government and the Department for Transport to have a licensing system put in place ... but the Government have told us they are not prepared to carry out any changes."