Taxi driver checks are ‘downgraded’

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CRIMINAL records checks for taxi drivers in Sheffield have been downgraded and council chiefs have revealed they do not keep data on individual drivers’ previous convictions – prompting criticism from a crime reduction charity.

The council said the Government now requires it to offer a choice of Criminal Records Bureau checks for cabbies, with only those working with children and vulnerable people still requiring ‘enhanced’ checks.

Drivers can choose a cheaper, standard check, in which less sources are checked.

The council, responding to a request under The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, also said it shreds details of criminal records on drivers after six months due to Data Protection Act requirements and does not record the number of drivers who have a criminal record.

Criminal records checks are mandatory for each driver every 18 months in Sheffield – more frequently than in other council areas such as Rotherham, where it is only once every five years.

Jo Walker, spokeswoman for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “Advanced CRB checks should be carried out and allowing these to be reduced to standard checks could be dangerous.

“We think advanced checks are necessary to provide reassurance to passengers.”

Hafeas Rehman, of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, said: “Checks in Sheffield are more frequent than in other areas and members of the public can feel reassured that they are carried out often.”

Sheffield Council said that there were 2,700 licensed taxi drivers in the city.

Steve Lonnia, chief licensing officer for Sheffield Council, said: “Due to recent changes the council is not permitted to require enhanced CRB checks from all taxi drivers.”