Carry on the party in Carlisle’s ‘rave taxi’

A taxi driver, who battled anxiety and addiction to alcohol, says starting a rave in his taxi has changed his life around.

Ferrying drunk passengers home late at night sometimes worried Stuart Curtis, 41, of Eilbeck Close, Raffles, Carlisle.

But over the years he has developed a way of making sure their spirits remain high and they don’t get aggressive – by carrying on the party.

Mr Curtis, who is also a DJ, decided to play dance music in his taxi and even added some flashing lights before Carlisle City Council asked him to take them down.

He said: “I just came up with this idea to create a party environment for my passengers.

“I’m still just a normal taxi, it isn’t a limo or a rave bus but I just create a party atmosphere.”

By making his taxi into a rave machine, Mr Curtis also said he has taken the focus of his passengers off himself.

Mr Curtis was an alcoholic but has now been sober for eight years. He suffers from anxiety but said that making people happy in his taxi really helps him.

He said: “I have just learned a technique: instead of thinking of myself, if I think about other people and making them happy, I forget about myself.

“Ever since I have been thinking about that my anxiety has disappeared.”

Mr Curtis has now set up a Facebook page where he posts disco selfies of the ravers in his taxi.

source: http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/

Rebuilding trust in Rotherham taxi trade

TODAY marks the deadline for most taxis in Rotherham to have CCTV equipment fitted.

Rotherham Borough Council commissioner Mary Ney said the policy sets a standard among the highest in the country.

A raft of measures have been introduced to rebuild trust in Rotherham’s taxi industry, which was criticised in the Jay report.

Other changes inlcude a ‘fit and proper’ person test, child safeguarding classes, English and maths tests and more stringent vehicle regulations.

Ms Ney, who has overseen the new policy, said: “Rotherham Council is committed to providing a professional and safe transport service.

“Our aim is to make Rotherham licensed drivers, operators and vehicles of the best quality.

“Ask for a Rotherham driver when you book your taxi and you will know your driver has met our high expectations.

“The regulations will ensure the safety of all those who use local taxis, rebuild trust and confidence in an industry which employs many local people whilst supporting drivers to do their job.”

Cameras must be activated whenever the vehicle is being used as a taxi. Audio footage must be taken when carrying children — and can be activated by any customer at any time.

Drivers will not have access to footage. Where 2016 renewal dates fall after July 6, CCTV must be installed when the driver next renews.

If you believe a driver is not abiding by the new rules, report your concern at http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/taxi

source: http://rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/

Celtic FC Foundation donate £7,000 to Glasgow Taxi Outing

CELTIC FC Foundation has today donated £7,000 to this year’s Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund for Sick Children, continuing the club’s long-standing support of the annual charity event.

Former Hoops favourite, Tosh McKinlay handed over the cheque to help fund the trip for at least 300 deserving kids on the Celtic Way.

It brings the contribution by the club to the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund to nearly £140,000 over the last 18 years.

Established in 1945, the Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund aims to provide a day of excitement and fun for children with special needs.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, June 15, and will see a colourful convoy of cabs once again make the traditional journey from the West End of Glasgow to Troon in Ayrshire, where the children will enjoy a fun-packed day.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue our support of the taxis outing for yet another year. This is a great annual occasion for the city, bringing great fun to children who really deserve our support”.

“The money Celtic has donated and the effort and hard work of so many people, has meant thousands of children and their families receiving much needed help. Everyone who makes this event so special deserves enormous credit”.

“Celtic was formed in 1888 to help to help people in need and we are pleased that today, the objective of making a positive difference to the lives of others remains such an important part of the club. We hope everyone involved in Wednesday’s event enjoys a great day out.”

Tosh McKinlay said: “I was lucky enough to see them off from the Kelvin Way last year in their 70th year, so it’s great to take part again. For Celtic FC Foundation to put in another £7,000 is a fantastic gesture and it’s great to promote that.”

Jim Buchanan, chairperson of the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund, said: “We can’t thank the people and all the fans who have donated through Celtic FC Foundation enough. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate it and all they have done for us over the years.

“The outing is one of the first days that everybody thinks about.This is the really big charity we have in the taxi trade and everyone that attends the event speaks about it all the time.

“All the taxi drivers always want to know when the date is for next year, ask questions about it and it’s the only thing a lot of them speak about.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who the real kids are – the ones in the front or the ones in the back!

“They work hard and a lot of them make a huge effort to do up their taxi with balloons and in the past we have had things like spaceships and tennis courts. They take their cab off the road for two or three days and work on it, they think it’s worthwhile and so do we.

“We aim for around 150 drivers and we have volunteers and charitable donations from people like Celtic. There are so many people involved all-year round, but on the day there could be up to 220 volunteers from different backgrounds distributing the food to the kids. The support we get is fantastic.”

Davie Hodgson, a taxi driver based out of Castlemilk, said: “My first outing was 24 years ago this year. We absolutely love it. It’s a humbling day. We are all Glasgow taxi drivers and it’s a day where we can give something back to the city – and it’s one day where everyone likes taxi drivers!

“It’s cracking day and a lot of the boys put in a lot of effort with dressing up, and this year we are going as The Magnificent Seven.

“It’s the one day of the year when the drivers can just act like weans. You see them all on the Kelvin Way leaping about like lunatics. It’s terrific and I would never miss it.

“It means a lot to the kids and it’s nice to give something back. We work up in Castlemilk and all the boys are all buzzing. They all have the cowboy outfits already and tomorrow they will start turning up with them even though the event is on Wednesday!”

source: http://www.celticfc.net/

Newcastle under Lyme council officer suspended over taxi licensing allegations

A COUNCIL licensing officer has been suspended following allegations against the staff member.

Newcastle Borough Council has taken the action while an internal investigation into the issue takes place.

It is understood that the allegations against the officer relate to the borough council’s issuing of licences to taxi drivers.

A borough council spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“As this is still under way it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Read more: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/

Wayne’s World – May 2016

B6TWNDmCQAAHCZaWayne’s World

By

Wayne Casey

The views expressed here are not the views of anyone, ever.

I started last month’s article by writing about the sad passing of Bryan Rowland, this month I feel I must say a little about another colleague who sadly passed away, Pat Connor.

Pat was a stalwart of the Manchester cab trade for over 40 years, well known through his political contacts throughout Greater Manchester and a strong union man through the GMB.

He was one of the founders of the ‘Meeting of Minds’ group and a devoted follower of Manchester United. RIP my friend.

Before Pat was buried news came that another colleague, Ray Tweddle of Streamline Taxis in Hartlepool had also sadly passed away. Ray was a NTA member for many years, attending regional meetings on a regular basis, always smiling and sharing a joke.

Last month I wrote at length about the way the press has seemingly treated that damn app. Ignoring the stories of driver complaints and on occasion completely ignoring some of the horror stories.

This month this line appears to have continued.

Asad Shah, a shopkeeper in Glasgow, appears to have had the audacity to wish Christians a Happy Easter. For this heinous crime, he was brutally murdered, allegedly by Tanveer Ahmed, a 32-year-old private hire driver who was working for the damn app company.

Predictably, the company issued a statement saying, “the car had not been used for any trips in Glasgow”, they also said, “any driver given a private hire licence by Bradford City Council had to pass enhanced DBS disclosure tests”.

Ahmed apparently confessed to his crime on 6th April, the press, predictably, reverted to describing him as a taxi driver, even though he was a private hire driver working for that damn app.

In a former life I was responsible a 50 cab fleet in Carlisle – over the twenty odd years I did this I cannot recall employing a single murderer – if I did, even though I have a very selective memory, I would remember doing so.

The Bury Times during April reported that Bury council had teamed up with that damn app in relation to an event in their borough called Parklife, I’ve been to Bury, Pondlife would be more apt. Irrespective of that bombshell, it would appear that the good councillors of the town seem to believe the public will be safer. They want to be careful making statements like that, it recently cost the damn app company $10 million in California for a similar claim.

The local paper stated, “it is not known at this stage whether its controversial surge pricing will be in place, where riders can pay up to 10 times the price depending on demand”.

It is therefore safe to assume the council negotiated a deal with the damn app company without knowing exactly how much the app company would be charging visitors from the event. My sense of wtf returns once more.

As the damn app company will be presumably using vehicles licensed across the Greater Manchester area, the council have seemingly, (and very effectively), stuck two fingers up at the cabs they license locally. Indeed, if they believe their own licensing officers have any control over vehicles they don’t license, they’re going to be in for a wonderful surprise and potential shenanigans galore.

Another person who deserves to be beaten about the head with a blunt gardening implement is a now former driver of that damn app. Mohamed Mohamoud, 51 of Tulse Hill who was told to pay £1,546 in fines and costs at Hammersmith magistrates’ court for refusing a guide dog.

District Judge Jeremy Coleman found him guilty of breaking the Equality Act 2010, saying: “I listened to the defendant with care but I don’t believe what he said to me.” In other words ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’, which is probably why I was refused a seat on the judiciary.

Although I would love to have seen the defendants face if the judge when sentencing uttered the words, ‘Officers of the court, take this man outside and shoot him!’

Speaking outside court, Ms Sharp (the blind lady), of Roehampton, welcomed the prosecution and vowed never to use Uber again. Sadly, I would think this is exactly what that damn app firm want; it’ll save them asking questions of their ‘partners’.

One really has to throw into question, yet again, the quality of driver the app appears to be attracting, may I be so bold as to suggest a further question relating to guide dogs in their induction courses for their ‘partners’.

The damn app company are not seemingly alone in employing the socially inept, people who need to be tied to a lamppost, naked and beaten about the body with a six iron. Up in Trafford, Asif Raza Syed was prosecuted under equalities legislation at Trafford Magistrates Court on April 8 for refusing to accept a passenger with a guide dog from his operator.

Carrying on, during April a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was answered by the Police in London, it gave rather alarming statistics involving minicab drivers. Between February 2015 and February 2016, there were154 serious sexual assaults (including rape), carried out by Private Hire drivers on passengers.

Elements of the press, well the Evening Standard and Independent Newspapers mainly, then went with the following furious headlines.

“126 cab drivers charged with sexual or violent crimes” stormed the Independent,

“More than 400 London cab drivers charged with crimes last year” fumed by the Evening Standard.

Of course, the culprits weren’t ‘London cab drivers’, the press, showing their usual ignorance and hatred of the cab trade, a level of ignorance which is beyond the ken of even those with single digit IQ’s, chose those headlines quite obviously on purpose.

Talking of wonderful surprises, the Daily Mirror reported on 18th April of a scandal of local government inadequacy. It reported:

“Drivers in South Ribble, Lancashire, have been accused of violating children while carrying out council-funded school runs, according to an interim review of the licensing of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles by South Ribble Council.

The horrifying report – which bears troubling similarities to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal – claims children were being put at risk on their daily commute.

It classes the failure of ­authorities to vet 44 of its drivers as particularly severe, since a report into the Rotherham attacks had warned 1,400 victims were picked up by taxis from school and children’s homes.”

It is with no sense of conceit I write this, but I have been warning for months in this column, years in other publications, that this type of thing is going to happen.

On one hand, you have licensing departments that have an ever-increasing workload of which taxis and private hire are merely part of the function and are arguably the most important and labour intensive element.

On the other hand, you have over promoted, politically correct feckwits who don’t know their backsides from their elbows.

However, regulatory services face budgetary pressure, like the rest of local government.

Yes, I know licensing Taxi and PH budgets should be ring fenced, but we all know those budgets have been pilfered for years. Indeed, one taxi-licensing budget paid for a firework display and another paid for a taxi rank that wasn’t actually there.

Press headlines telling of huge increases in license fees and numerous local authorities adopting joint regulatory services with adjoining local councils, based on saving taxpayers money are obvious further examples of budgetary pressure.

Officers are in numerous cases given too many delegated powers from often-lazy licensing committees and chief executives, repeatedly to save on the cost of committee meetings, and consequently the adoption of penalty point schemes. Cutting back on paperwork, interviews under PACE and writing reports that may be scrutinized in courts cuts expenditure.

In many cases, licensing departments are understaffed, even a single absence, perhaps due to illness, can dramatically decrease the effectiveness of a licensing department.

I am reminded by a quote from Noam Chomsky;

“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital”

When you seriously look at it how many of you are thinking, the council cannot run licensing, let’s get a private company to run it?

Overstretched licensing departments do not exactly help themselves.

As I have said and wrote on numerous occasions, if someone from many miles away wants a taxi or private hire license, someone must surely ask why?

Why would this person from Manchester, come all the way to Whitehaven to apply for a taxi license?

Should it not ring a couple of alarm bells? Am I led to believe that licensing officers, after almost 30 years in dealing with them, are all of a sudden not the suspicious type?

Let us not fool ourselves; there is understandable public anger about children being molested and raped by licensed drivers, the damage these drivers do to the reputation of the rest of us cannot be easily repaired.

In everything this and what the previous government has done, be it bringing in the deregulation act or ignoring the ‘out of town’ taxis issue, it has helped create a situation where the public are less safe and licensing departments can be accused of neglect.

It is mooted in certain areas that private companies such as ‘Capita’ should run regulatory services departments, indeed; it is advertised on their website.

Of course, private companies are run for profit, something expressly forbidden in terms of our licenses, but let’s face facts here, since when has something such as this ever-stopped private capital?

I have news for you, it hasn’t, laws are changed.

They are coming for your licensing departments and do you know what? They will get them.

All thoughts of dealing with a local licensing officer, those people you castigate whenever they make an unpopular decision, but are there so you can vent and grass up colleagues, will be gone.

You will be dealing with people miles away, perhaps thousands of miles away, no face, just a voice like when you call telecom to complain, you will pay and if you don’t you’ll lose your license.

I’ve seen the future and now they’re coming for us.

also available at – PHTM May Issue
 

Redditch Borough Council penalty points consultation

Dear Consultee,

 

Redditch Borough Council is proposing to introduce a penalty points scheme as a tool to help secure compliance with licensing requirements from holders of the hackney carriage and private hire licences that the Council issues and is therefore carrying out consultation on the proposal.

 

A copy of the draft penalty points scheme and a consultation response form can be downloaded here:

http://www.redditchbc.gov.uk/business/starting-a-business/licenses-and-permits-you-may-need/taxis-and-private-hire/consultation-on-taxi-penalty-points-scheme.aspx

 

If you would like to take part in this consultation, please return your consultation response to:

 

Consultation on Penalty Points Scheme – Redditch Borough Council

Worcestershire Regulatory Services

Wyre Forest House

Finepoint Way

Kidderminster

Worcestershire

DY11 7WF

 

You can also return your consultation response via email to wrsenquiries@worcsregservices.gov.uk.  Finally you can submit your consultation response at the Reception Desk at the Town Hall in Redditch in an envelope marked for the attention of “Licensing.”

 

This consultation will remain open for responses until Friday 10th June 2016.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dave Etheridge

Dave Etheridge Senior Practitioner (Licensing) Tel: 01905 822799 Fax: 01562 745516 E-mail: Dave.Etheridge@worcsregservices.gov.uk Web: http://www.worcsregservices.gov.uk/ 

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY11 7WF

Taxi driver with sleep condition caused head-on smash South Yorkshire road

A former taxi driver fell asleep at the wheel and swerved into an oncoming vehicle, a court heard.

Khalid Ali, aged 41, of Ramsden Road, Broom, Rotherham, was seen by a witness before the collision ‘swerving’ across the A628 Manchester Road near Penistone.

The smash on August 30, 2014, left Ali, who was later diagnosed with a sleep condition, and the victim with serious injuries.

Ali, who attended court supported by a crutch, has had to claim disability benefit but was said to be making progress with his recovery.

But the injured victim said in a statement he did not bear Ali any ill feeling.

He said: “Whatever happened to him on that day, I just want him to sort himself out to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Sheffield Crown Court was told after the crash, Ali was diagnosed with sleep apnoea when he was spotted falling asleep in the hospital waiting room for routine check-ups on his injuries.

Judge Mark Gargan said he took Ali’s condition into consideration but added he should have pulled over.

Alison Dorrell, prosecuting, said: “The defendant, who was driving a Volkswagen people carrier towards Penistone, was seen veering across the lane before the collision.

“The driver who was hit in the head-on collision was travelling in the direction of Manchester to play golf.”

The victim spent three weeks in hospital and his wife took three months off work to care for him. His recovery was described as ‘slow but steady’.

Andrew Smith, defending, said: “The driver of the other vehicle has a shown remarkable understanding despite receiving relatively serious injuries.

“It took so long to come to court because the police investigation could not find out what had happened and this is now clear because of Mr Ali’s condition.

“Phone and taxi computer records were checked and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been distracted or was speeding.

“Mr Ali acknowledges the serious injuries that he has caused and he is truly remorseful for what has happened.”

Judge Gargan said: “Your condition does go some way to explaining why the collision came about.

But you were seen swerving across the road before the crash and that should have been enough for you to do something, like pulling over.”

Ali admitted driving without due care and attention and was fined £250 and given an eight-month driving ban.

Read more: http://www.thestar.co.uk/

Uber pays $10m in driver vetting row

Ride-sharing company Uber has agreed to pay $10m (£7m) to settle a dispute over its background checks for drivers.

Uber was sued in 2014 after it claimed its vetting process was better than systems traditional minicab firms used.

But district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles said Uber’s very public statement it was “the gold standard” for safety was misleading.

Uber said it had dealt with many of the concerns in the case, and said settling was not an admission of any wrongdoing.

Unlike traditional cab companies, Uber does not require a fingerprint check that could uncover prior convictions.

Instead, Uber uses different criminal databases to vet its drivers, with data going back seven years.

As part of the settlement, Uber has said it would no longer use the terms such as “safest drive on the road” in its advertising.

But the BBC understands the company would not be adding fingerprint checks to its process.

The firm stressed that it felt no driver vetting system could ever be “100% safe”.

Prosecutors said Uber had failed to prevent 25 people with criminal convictions from becoming drivers, including several sex offenders and a convicted murderer.

“Accidents and incidents do happen,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“That’s why we need to ensure that the language used to describe safety at Uber is clear and precise.”

One of those language changes has included renaming its “safe ride fee” as a “booking fee”.
Airport permission

“We’re glad to put this case behind us and excited to redouble our efforts serving riders and drivers across the state of California,” it added.

The company also agreed it would only operate at Californian airports where it had explicit permission to do so, and make airport surcharges clearer.

Uber will make the $10m payment within 60 days which will be split evenly between authorities in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

If the company fails to keep to the agreement outlined in the settlement it will be forced to pay an additional $15m in two years.

“The result we achieved today goes well beyond its impact on Uber,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

“It sends a clear message to all businesses, and to startups in particular, that in the quest to quickly obtain market share, laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Cardiff could be left without taxis after cabbies threaten to strike over council crackdown

Cardiff’s Hackney Driver Association said its members will strike on four nights in April because of their unhappiness with new guidance issued by Cardiff council

Cardiff’s Hackney Driver Association said its members will strike over two weekends

Clubbers and partygoers in Cardiff could be left without taxis on four weekend nights this month after cabbies threatened to go on strike.

The city’s Hackney Driver Association said members are planning to take action on April 15 and 16 and April 22 and 23 because of their unhappiness with a council crackdown.

The planned move would hit taxicabs – black cab-style services that can be hailed on the street – but would not affect private hire drivers.

It comes after the council clamped down on taxi complaints in the wake of a series of reported sex attacks in the capital last year.

In September, concerns were raised that lone women had been refused journeys by drivers which they deemed to be too short a distance.

As a result, Cardiff council issued guidance from the head of the licensing committee, Councillor Jacqueline Parry, saying that if anyone felt they were wrongly turned down for a journey they should take the driver’s details and report them.

The council subsequently announced 90 complaints were made within three weeks.

But the association says these complaints were simply a result of the increased number of people visiting the city for the Rugby World Cup .

“The alleged victims have never stated in any interviews that they had to walk home because the taxi drivers refused to take them home , based on the ground that the journey was too short,” said Mathab Khan, chairman of the Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association.

“The council received some 90 complaints in three weeks mainly during the Rugby World cup tournament, when 70,000 to 100,000 rugby fans filled up every nook and cranny of the city especially whenever Wales was playing at home or away, and most of them are fairly drunk and some of them are heavily drunk or too drunk to travel in taxis.

“Hence the degree of complaints increased significantly, due to the fact that there was 10 times more people in the city, compared to the amount of people we normally have in any given time, and most of them were heavily under the influence of alcohol.”

The group alleged that drivers have been punished unfairly – with five drivers since having their licences suspended.

And it claimed those complaints had been dealt with through the council’s licensing sub-committee to “punish the drivers with a vengeance” in a forum which requires a “lesser level of scrutiny” than if they had been pursued through a court hearing.

Mr Khan said: “Unless the full committee of Cardiff council ceases such malpractice with immediate effect and remove Councillor Jacqueline Parry [committee chairwoman] and Dave Holland [Head of Service – Regulatory & Supporting Services] from their position immediately, we will be considering industrial action on Friday, April 15, and Saturday, April 16, between midnight till 4am and will repeat on April 22 and 23.”

Cardiff council has defended its right to take disciplinary action against individuals who refuse a fare without good reason, and explained its reasoning behind pursuing complaints through a committee rather than through a prosecution.

A spokesman said: “Last autumn the issue of refusal of fares became prominent in the local media and the council received many complaints. Council officers decided to deal with these by taking them to the Public Protection Committee to consider potential disciplinary action. This was in view of the volume of complaints, public concern, the committee’s function to protect vulnerable members of the travelling public, and the desire to simplify the process for the complainant, who is the ultimately the service user.

“During the time in question, the council did appeal to the taxi trade to take vulnerable women home. A view shared by Mr Khan’s media statement on September 27, which stated that ‘99.9% of drivers were helpful ’ and ‘Our (Hackney Carriage Association) advice to our drivers is to be as helpful as you possibly can, especially when it comes to lone female students. We say ‘Please take them, they are vulnerable’.

“Rather than threatening strike action, we would advise all drivers to understand and abide by their licensing conditions, or face enforcement action for breaching the law.”

source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

Crawley taxi drivers could be unknowingly ferrying around children to be abused

TAXI drivers in Crawley are going to be trained in how to spot the signs they could be asked to pick up and ferry around a child who is being sexually exploited in the town or at Gatwick Airport.

To mark Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day on Friday, March 18 it was announced all 850 licensed hackney carriage and private hire drivers in Crawley will undergo new training. CSE is the abuse and manipulation of young girls and boys into sexual activity, potentially in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection or status.

There are concerns Crawley’s links with Gatwick Airport and the number of hotels in the area could mean vulnerable children are being exploited for sex – with drivers unknowingly transporting them.

Councillor Michael Jones, cabinet member for public protection and community engagement at Crawley Borough Council and chair of the Safer Crawley Partnership, said: “Taxi drivers are known to transport vulnerable adults and children.

“While I’ve received no intelligence to pinpoint there being a particular issue in Crawley, we cannot be complacent. We are right next to Gatwick Airport and if there is any sort of trafficking of young people going on it is likely that our taxi drivers are on the front line getting fares to ferry them from place to place.

“We want to take hard action and the training will highlight awareness of CSE and encourage them to report any concerns to the police and council.”

Drivers are expected to complete the training course, funded by the Safer Crawley Partnership and Barnado’s, this year.

The course will highlight the signs to look out for, help drivers understand why a victim may not ask for help and to be aware of how children describe where they are going and why, plus the different grooming processes. Hackney carriage drivers are fully behind the new training.

Martin Feasey, a hackney carriage driver in Crawley with 32 years’ experience, has his own policy when it comes to being asked to take fares for children.

He said: “I refuse to take a child aged under 14 who is alone, they should be accompanied by an adult. I wouldn’t say it is safe for someone that young to be going somewhere alone and I wouldn’t want to put myself in that situation.”

Bob Lawrence, a taxi driver for more than 40 years around Crawley, said: “This is a positive step. I cannot think of an occasion where I’ve ever had a young person in my taxi and felt as though something wrong was going on.

“But at the same time, even with all my years of experience, I cannot be certain that I’ve known what to look out for. This training will change that and I’m fully behind it.

“I’d hate to think I could pick up a passenger who was being groomed but if I ever did I’d want to be in the best position to spot what was happening and do something about it.”

Last year Crawley Borough Council spent £1,800 on handbooks urging taxi drivers to report concerns and what signs to look for.

Next month Sussex Police are launching a further campaign in the area to give extra support to people running and working at hotels and B&Bs to help them look out for the tell-tale signs.

Read more: http://www.crawleynews.co.uk/