Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham abuse scandal: Council plans new taxi rules

Image caption The Jay Report said taxi drivers had played a "prominent role" in child sexual exploitation in Rotherham

Plans to introduce tougher regulations for taxi drivers following the publication of a report into child abuse in Rotherham have been revealed.

The Jay Report said more than 1,400 children were abused in the town from 1997-2013. It said taxi drivers played a "prominent role" in the abuse.

Rotherham Borough Council said the report had had a "significant impact" on confidence in the town's drivers.

Among the proposed changes are more rigorous checks on past criminality.

Dave Richmond, the council's director of housing and neighbourhood services, said that while the council's policy was "compliant with the law and our standards exceed those of some areas", it was felt the authority "should do all that we can to make sure we have some of the highest standards nationally and a top quality service".

There are 1,200 drivers registered in Rotherham, 80 operators and 800 vehicles.

A council spokesman said: "This policy represents probably biggest overhaul of licensing policies conducted by this authority at any point in the last 20 years."

Dress code

Under the proposed new policy all drivers of black cabs and private hire taxis who are UK citizens must have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service report. Applicants who have lived overseas must satisfy the council of their previous good character.

The council will also apply tougher standards when considering past criminality, particularly concerning sexual activity, violence, children, vulnerable adults, dishonesty or drug dealing.

Drivers will also be required to complete a course to ensure they understand matters relating to adult and child safeguarding, pass a tougher communication and knowledge test and adhere to a dress code.

The proposed changes will be debated by the council's licensing board on 27 October.

If agreed the policy will be put out to an eight-week public consultation.

The council said proposed changes to national legislation could take considerable time to come in to force and failing to strengthen current standards would not offer the necessary safety, comfort and reassurance to customers.

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