All Hartlepool taxi drivers are set to undergo training to help recognise and act on signs that children may be being exploited sexually.
A new amendment to Hartlepool’s Taxi Licensing Policy will require all new drivers to take the training and all existing drivers must complete an awareness course within a year of the new policy coming into force.
Hartlepool Borough Council, which awards taxi licences says taxi drivers have an important role to play in helping to tackle the issue.
It follows an official report that said taxi drivers played a prominent role in moving around children who were abused in Rotherham between 1997-2013.
Two drivers were jailed for their role in the rape and trafficking of young girls in Rochdale.
Hartlepool licensing officer Ian Harrison said: “This will ensure our taxi drivers who do have an insight into all sorts of activities that they understand what child sexual exploitation is, can recognise the signs and know what to do about it.
This will ensure our taxi drivers who do have an insight into all sorts of activities that they understand what child sexual exploitation is, can recognise the signs and know what to do about it
“If someone is intent on carrying out child sexual exploitation any training we give is not going to stop them.
“This is for the 99.99% of honest taxi drivers to recognise and do something.”
Mr Harrison is working with leading children’s charity Barnardo’s to develop a taxi driver training package that will be rolled out across the country.
Another amendment Hartlepool’s taxi licensing policy is to remove an exemption in the current policy which says anyone applying to be a taxi driver can use their HGV drivers licence medical.
It is because HGV medicals can be gained through self declaration and without a doctor having access to the person’s medical records.
It is in response to an incident in Glasgow 2014 where a bin lorry driver, who had not fully disclosed his previous medical history, killed six people and injured 15 others after passing out at the wheel.
Instead, all applicants would have to provide a Group 2 medical certificate completed by a doctor who has had access to the driver’s medical records.
The draft policy go out to consultation between March 1 and May 31 and will be brought back to the licensing committee for further debate.