APCC Chair Vera Baird QC today reinforced the Association’s call for more robust licensing of taxis following the publication of a new report on child abuse.
A serious case review published by the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board, examining cases of child sexual exploitation that have taken place within the county between 1998-2016, has highlighted the need for more robust licensing for taxi services in order to combat Child Sexual Exploitation.
This follows calls by APCC Dame Vera Baird last month, for new statutory guidance relating to how public authorities exercise their licensing functions on taxi and private vehicle hire legislation, in order to enhance protection for children and vulnerable adults. In addition, the APCC is recommending that the Government look again at introducing a national database to allow local authorities to undertake appropriate checks when applications are received.
Dame Vera said:
“It is deeply disturbing to read in this case review that some taxi drivers, entrusted with transporting young people from schools and children’s homes, have been directly involved in the abuse of the young people. It is equally shocking to read that in one case, a taxi driver – who later went on to be arrested and charged as part of a child sexual exploitation operation– was licensed, despite having been previously under investigation for rape.
“As I stated last month, this is an area of considerable concern for Police and Crime Commissioners who recognise that there are a number of safeguarding issues that exist in the way in which private hire or hackney carriage drivers are currently assessed for a licence.
“In order to protect children and young people from exploitation and abuse, we support the recommendation made in the case review that the government should consider introducing a national central database of all licensed drivers, indicating whether any driver has been subject to any regulatory sanctions. We have made representation to the Transport Minister on this issue.”