TAXI and minicab drivers will be required to undertake training on child safeguarding issues before being awarded a licence under new regulations being introduced by Reading Borough Council.
A two-hour training session on Safeguarding Children & Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) will form part of the application process for both Hackney Carriage Vehicle (HCV) and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licences.
All Reading licensed drivers are being invited to a limited number of free training sessions throughout 2017.
Taxi and private hire drivers are currently required to undergo Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and complete a two-part council theory test, which includes questions on licence conditions, Highway Code, transportation of disabled passengers and safeguarding/CSE.
Members of the Licensing Application Sub-Committee 3 agreed earlier this month to strengthen the safeguarding/CSE aspect of the application process for the renewal of these licences.
Licensing officers will initially work in conjunction with the Council’s Children’s Services team to provide free training sessions, starting in April. The sessions will cover how taxi drivers can safeguard themselves and passengers, report suspected abuse and CSE, provide scenarios which drivers may find themselves in or recognise indicators of possible abuse.
Compulsory training will be rolled out in 2018 when the free training is complete. Driver licenses are issued for three years at a time.
The introduction of the new requirement has been taken in conjunction with Bracknell Forest Borough, Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire Councils. Drivers will be able to go to any of the participating authorities for the training and, once completed, the certificate will be accepted by those same authorities.
Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said:
“Licensing officers recognised that existing drivers may have only received none or limited training on safeguarding/CSE issues and this needed to be addressed.
“They have been working with the Council’s safeguarding team and with colleagues from other councils to strengthen awareness in this area.
“I would encourage drivers to book themselves onto the free training courses while they can.”
Cllr Jan Gavin, Reading’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:
“The safeguarding of children is not just the responsibility of the council but of everyone who comes into contact with young people through their work.
“CSE training for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licence holders is an excellent initiative which will help drivers recognise when young people may be at risk and keep safeguarding of children in their minds.”