Sex offenders among those who applied for taxi licences in Burton and South Derbyshire

PAEDOPHILES, burglars and a kidnapper were among those who applied to become taxi drivers across East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire.

Figures from the Disclosure and Barring Service show that between 2012 and 2015, 2,890 disclosure orders were applied for.

Anyone applying to become a licence holder of a private hire vehicle or a hackney carriage must have a check carried out by the DBS which they must present as part of their application.

From the applications made, more than 17 per cent were found to have a conviction; 514 applicants in total with 2,003 convictions, cautions or reprimands between them.

Offences include indecent assault on a female under the age of 14, sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 16 and kidnapping.

There was also a host of driving offences including not wearing a seatbelt and driving while disqualified.

Policies from East Staffordshire Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council mirror one another with major offences such as sexual assault or violence leaving it ‘unlikely’ that a licence will be accepted.

A spokesman from South Derbyshire District Council said: “Our main priority is protecting the public and making South Derbyshire a safe place to be. A full DBS check is required for all new drivers applying to us for a licence and the law requires that this check must be renewed every three years. Drivers are required to notify us of any new convictions they may have.

“The council’s policy is that when anyone with a previous criminal conviction applies for a private hire licence, the case is referred to the Licensing and Appeals Sub-Committee.

“Our private hire licensing policy, which can be viewed on our website, is then applied in each individual case to inform prior to any decision made.”

The DBS is not able to state whether any of the individuals were employed as that decision is down to the local authority.

A spokesman from East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “Following the appropriate legislation the general licensing committee consider whether the applicant is a fit and proper person.

“Each case must be dealt with on its own merits. The committee follow Home Office guidance for particular offences and periods free from conviction will be taken into account.

“The principal objective for the licensing authority is the safety and protection of the public.”

Read more: Burton Mail

Durham taxi drivers to be trained in spotting child sexual exploitation

Taxi drivers in County Durham are to be trained to spot tell-tale signs of sexual exploitation of children as part of a council scheme.

All Hackney carriage and private hire drivers licensed by Durham County Council are to be required to undergo Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) awareness training, after more than half of people responding to consultation supported such action.

Already 683 taxi drivers – almost 40 percent of the 1,757 drivers licenced by the council – have received CSE awareness training on a voluntary basis.

Further free training sessions have been arranged by the Durham Local Safeguarding Children Board.

In consultation on changes to the council’s hackney carriage and private hire licensing policy, 56.2 percent of respondents agreed that all taxi licence applicants should be required to undergo awareness training to assist in the prevention and reporting of sexual exploitation.

As a result, all applicants will be required to undergo the training before they can be licensed and existing drivers who haven’t already completed one of the training sessions will have to attend one by 1 September 2016.

Knowledge tests for new applicants will also be changed to include questions around CSE awareness.

Coun Brian Stephens, cabinet portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “One of the primary aims of taxi licensing is to protect and safeguard the public, especially our children and young people who are among the most vulnerable groups in society.

“By making it a requirement that all drivers undergo CSE training, we hope that we can help them spot signs of abuse and act on it accordingly.”

A number of other revisions have been made to the licensing policy, which was approved by full council earlier this month.

The policy has been amended to include some new requirements for both licensed vehicles and drivers to improve on existing standards and help safeguard the public.

For example drivers will be required to have their identification clearly visible to passengers and new vehicles will have to meet tougher emission standards.

The use of CCTV in all licensed vehicles will be strongly encouraged and drivers will be required to sign up to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Scheme.

Basic numeracy testing will be introduced as part of the knowledge test while older vehicles will be required to undergo more frequent testing.

The amended policy will also see drivers have their licence suspended if they do not present their vehicle for testing at a specified time.

The consultation sought the views of members of the taxi trade, trade representatives, taxi service users and all relevant authorities and organisations.

Read more: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/