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 face punishment.
Disabled people, bus companies and drivers should all be made aware that such crimes should be reported to the Police.
The Police Crime Commissioner said:
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.
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 taken steps to ensure the Force’s Contact Centre staff are informed to ensure that any calls are handled appropriately.
Contact the Police by live chat, phone, SMS text or Text Direct.
Under the same legislation, drivers are also under a criminal law obligation to:
- accept passengers with assistance dogs
- allow a wheelchair user on to 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
- work a ramp or boarding lift (including by using the manual override if an electric mechanism is broken), when a wheelchair user wishes to get on or off, e.g. when a wheelchair user presses the special blue button to show they want to get off
- help wheelchair users get on or off
- enable wheelchair users to access and leave the wheelchair space
- kneel the bus if they think a disabled person would benefit from it and/or if asked to do so
- make sure the bus is displaying the correct route number and destination.
The above duties are criminal duties on a driver, separate and added to the duties under the Equality Act. Failure to comply with the duty may result in a driver’s criminal conviction, 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.