The majority of ministerial departments are still failing to follow the Government’s own advice as well as industry best practice on driving licence checks, according to a BusinessCar investigation.

Two years ago, BusinessCar asked all the major Government departments what their procedures were for the most fundamental of risk management measures – driver licence checking. The results, gained using the Freedom of Information Act 2000, were shocking. Very few departments were carrying out checks that would have stood up to a post-accident investigation, according to the experts BusinessCar consulted.

Earlier this year, we went back to those departments to see if they had improved their processes. Only three of the 20 asked are now operating at best practice levels, a slight improvement over the two that were at this level in 2009. On top of this, two departments have improved their checking systems, if not to best practice levels, and a third is reviewing its policy with a view to achieving best practice.

The best three departments were not only checking company car drivers’ and grey fleet drivers’ licences every six months, but they were also checking against the DVLA database, which guarantees that staff aren’t lying about the state of their licence.

ACFO’s code of practice on licence checking, which was written following the BusinessCar investigation and on the recommendation of MP and former transport minister Dr Stephen Ladyman, proposes fleets check either visually or with an electronic checking service every six months.

“Despite some positive comments about the ACFO code from several Government departments when it was launched last May, it’s disappointing that some have fallen short of what they discussed and intended,” ACFO chairman Julie Jenner told BusinessCar. “However, it’s great to see some have made positive changes on the back of our best practice guide.”

Malcolm Maycock, boss of checking service Licence Bureau, believes the only truly secure way to guarantee the validity of a licence is with a DVLA check. Data from his checks show that one in every 187 drivers is operating without a valid licence when a business initially runs a DVLA check having either never checked or previously only using visual checks.

“There are umpteen examples of failures under visual checking, and visual checks can’t work out who’s got a revoked licence,” he said.

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