Rotherham yet to launch new taxi rules to combat CSE
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Plans to combat child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham by toughening up rules for taxi drivers are yet to be implemented seven months after they were first drawn up, it has emerged.
Changes to taxi licensing rules were first announced by Rotherham Council in October last year, following the publication of Professor Alexis Jay’s report into CSE in the town which found that more than 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013.
The report said taxi drivers played a "prominent role" in the abuse.
The proposed new rules include:
- Fitting CCTV cameras in all taxis
- A requirement that all drivers subscribe to the Disclosure and Barring Service so that they can be checked at any time
- Drivers who have not been resident in the UK facing additional requirements to provide evidence of their good character
- Providing CSE training for taxi drivers, so that they can help police and other agencies spot and report abuse
The council initially launched an eight-week public consultation on the plans last November.
However a further four-week consultation has now been launched, in order to “take into account views expressed in last year's public consultation”.
The latest consultation is due to finish on 29 May.
Fleur Strong, director of Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation, urged the council to ensure the new measures are in place as swiftly as possible.
She said: “Consultation and engaging and involving the community is very important but there does come a time when we have to start acting and driving through change.”
“We know that CSE is still taking place in Rotherham as it is in every town and city in the UK.
“Prevention of this heinous crime by utilising licensing and local authority regulations, and ensuring people say something if they see something, is vital and needs to start happening as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for the council said that this latest consultation is being carried out to take into account the findings of the Casey report.
He added that vetting procedures for taxi drivers had already been strengthened ahead of the new measures coming into force.
This has included revoking licences in seven cases recently, five of which were revoked on the basis of police information concerning CSE investigations.
In addition, he said that out of 19 recent taxi licence renewals, just three were awarded.
“There are already procedures in place to ensure that the drivers are fit and proper to undertake the role,” he said.
"The council is taking a much more rigorous approach to the policy overall.”
There are around 1,200 taxi drivers registered in Rotherham.