Crackdown on Scottish 'gangster' taxi firms

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Plans to crack down on criminal gangs who use taxi firms as a front for money laundering and drug dealing are to be unveiled by the Scottish government.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said an "accreditation scheme" would ensure that legitimate trade was "not run off the road by gangsters".

Under such a scheme "only those companies which are law-abiding would be out plying for hire", he said.

The minister said the current licence scheme checked individuals not firms.

Under his plans, firms could be given a "kite mark to show that they are viewed as legitimate and lawful".

"Clearly if firms don't have that mark it will be up to individuals to make their choice," Mr MacAskill said.

"We think everyone has a role here, especially those who give out public sector contracts, to make sure it is only the law-abiding hard-working cabbie that gets the fare."

Mr MacAskill is addressing the first ever summit in Scotland focusing on the threat organised crime poses to the taxi trade.

The summit, organised jointly by the Scottish government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), will bring together law enforcement and local authority representatives to share intelligence.

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