New national rules planned on taxi drivers following Rotherham scandal

Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham

Tougher national measures to prevent taxi drivers being involved in child sexual exploitation are to be introduced in the wake of the Rotherham scandal.

The Government has agreed to introduce new measures placing a duty on local councils ‘to consider how they can prevent child sexual exploitation when they issue licences for taxis and private hire vehicles’.

It follows campaigning from a Rotherham steering group made up of abuse survivors and town MP Sarah Champion. Tougher measures have already been ordered in Rotherham, where all taxis will have to contain CCTV cameras from next month.

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

Miss Champion said: “I am pleased that the steps that Rotherham Council took locally, will now be implemented nationally. We have a responsibility to keep all children safe. It has been two years since the Rotherham abuse scandal, and only now the Government has listened and taken action to make the taxi profession safer for the most vulnerable children. Whilst I welcome this decision, it is disgraceful that the Government has taken this long to act.”

Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: “New measures to make taxis safer for vulnerable children at risk of exploitation are needed urgently.”