Dozens of Rotherham taxi drivers have licences revoked in crackdown

Dozens of taxi drivers in Rotherham have had their licences revoked after tougher regulations were introduced in the wake of the town's abuse scandal.

Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 8:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 8:31 am
Sir Derek Myers, lead commissioner at Rotherham Council

A total of 67 drivers were found to be potentially in breach of new ‘fit and proper person’ tests – with around 70 per cent of this group having their licences revoked after case hearings.

A further 171 taxi drivers in the town have had their licences suspended until they complete training sessions on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

Details have been revealed in a report by the Government-appointed commissioners who have taken charge of Rotherham Council in the wake of child sexual exploitation scandal.

Professor Alexis Jay’s inquiry in August 2014 – which found that at least 1,400 children had been victims of sexual exploitation over 16 years – had noted the ‘prominent role’ of taxi drivers in such offending.

Louise Casey’s follow-up report for the Government in February 2015 said the ‘well-publicised link between taxis and CSE in Rotherham continues to cast a long shadow over the vast majority of law-abiding drivers who make their living from the taxi trade.’

New licensing rules were approved by Commissioner Mary Ney, despite protests from some drivers, which centred on concerns about ‘ongoing’ plans to put CCTV cameras in every taxi.

Angry drivers said they were being made ‘scapegoats’ for the town’s grooming scandal in a protest outside the Town Hall.

The new ‘fit and proper’ persons test takes account of previous criminal convictions and complaints, while there are more stringent requirements regarding safety and the age of vehicles.

The report from the commissioners said: “An audit of all drivers against the new standard identified that six per cent of drivers may be in breach.

“All of these 67 were offered the opportunity of a case hearing which has resulted in around 70 per cent of these licences being revoked.

“By January this year, 963 drivers had attended training sessions on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults; the remaining 171 drivers are suspended until they complete the training.

“If they fail to do so within the required timescale, the licence suspension will take full effect.”

Commissioners have also revealed they hope to hand back more powers to councillors and officers in summer after returning responsibility in summer for areas such as youth services, housing, planning and education.

Lead commissioner Sir Derek Myers said: “While it is clear we have to go some way to restoring the public’s confidence in the council, our trajectory is upwards.”

n 177 people charged with CSE offences in South Yorkshire last year: Page 10