A police operation cracking down on unlicensed taxi drivers in the north-east will be taking place over the next few weeks.
Reports of unlicensed drivers sitting outside pubs and clubs in Fraserburgh at the weekend have sparked a joint operation between police and Aberdeenshire Council.
The force will target young drivers offering lifts on social media in exchange for money.
Officers will be co-ordinating with the licensing department at the council and legitimate taxi drivers, who have expressed their frustration at the practice.
Taxi drivers require different forms of insurance and the penalties for driving without the correct insurance range from points on your licence, to being disqualified from driving and having your vehicle seized.
Those found to be operating as a taxi without a licence could also receive a fine of up to £2,500.
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Sergeant Tricia MacLean, from the North East Divisional Licensing Unit, said: “The legitimate taxi trade go through rigorous checks to ensure that their vehicles are safe and suitable to transport members of the public, while unlicensed drivers have not undergone these checks.
“While offers from such drivers might be appealing from a financial point of view, you may be compromising your safety and putting yourself at significant risk.
“Remember that legitimate taxi drivers are expected to clearly display their taxi or private hire licence plates and carry photo identification to prove their status. If either of these items are not visible, I’d strongly advise you not to enter the vehicle.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “The safety of residents and visitors within our communities is paramount and this joint operation between our civic licensing standards officers and Police Scotland will help tackle any unlicensed taxi activity in Fraserburgh.
“We would encourage any member of the public who believes someone is operating a taxi without a licence to contact Police Scotland as to operate or drive a taxi without a licence is a criminal offence.”