Rotherham taxi scheme to be adopted nationally to protect children

Sarah Champion
Sarah Champion

Taxi drivers across the country are to abide by new laws following the success of a scheme in Rotherham aimed at protecting children.

Following a campaign led by Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, the Government has agreed to introduce new measures that place a duty on local authorities to ensure that taxis and private hire vehicles are better equipped to protect children from sexual exploitation.

The child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, made public in 2014, revealed that private hire vehicles and taxis were used in the grooming and trafficking of young girls for sex.

Professor Alexa Jay, who published a report which claimed 1,400 children were abused by men of largely Pakistani-heritage between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority turned a blind eye, found that taxis played a ‘prominent role’ in the movement of victims.

In Rotherham, all taxi drivers have had CCTV cameras in their vehicles since July 2016.

Drivers are also required to activate an audio recording device whenever they transport an unaccompanied child or vulnerable adult.

Ms Champion pushed the Government to make similar changes nationally through legal changes to the Policing and Crime Bill.

“I am pleased that the steps that Rotherham Council took locally, will now be implemented nationally," she said.

"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."