Leeds cabbies train in child protection

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Almost 1,400 Leeds cabbies have received child protection training in the wake of the Rotherham sexual grooming scandal and links to the taxi and private hire trades.

A Leeds City Council watchdog panel was told yesterday (April 21) that 1,398 drivers had already received the now compulsory sessions designed to provide Hackney carriage and private hire drivers, operators and escorts with “an understanding of their responsibilities to safeguard young people”.

To date 1,398 licence holders have attended safeguarding sessions in Leeds with four sessions being held every month. Training in Leeds is headed up by the independent Leeds Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). It is also being offered by other similar panels in West Yorkshire.

A meeting at Leeds Civic Hall yesterday was also told that the city is still looking into a proposed change in policy for taxi and private hire licence applicants born outside of the UK.

A report to the Children’s Services Scrutiny Panel said any new legislation would include the introduction of online annual criminal records checks and a new reporting system “to enable immediate enforcement action to be taken”.

The Yorkshire Evening Post reported last year that prospective cabbies in Leeds could face stricter checks after concerns were raised about the current process. Applicants from outside the UK will have to provide more information before they pass the ‘fit and proper person’ test.

It follows inquiries into the Rotherham grooming scandal, which found that cabs had been used to ferry children around for exploitation. However the inquiry by the LSCB also found that the risk was not linked directly to children using taxis for transport, as their usage was actually “quite limited”.