Taxi drivers licensed in Reigate & Banstead will be required to take a safeguarding course, although a survey suggested many of them aren’t keen on the plan.
The one-hour online course will show drivers how to spot children who may be at risk of sexual exploitation, and how to report concerns about children or other vulnerable people. The session will include a multiple-choice test.
The training is part of a new harmonised approach to taxi and private hire licensing across Surrey: earlier this month Reigate & Banstead’s licensing committee resolved to adopt it within the borough.
Councillors at the meeting heard about a driver in Oxfordshire who was hailed a hero after putting awareness training to use. His suspicions around a lone 13-year-old female passenger and the circumstances of her journey led to police being called, and a man being jailed for attempted abduction.
In a Surrey-wide consultation, over 70% of the public were in favour of the compulsory training for existing and new taxi drivers.
But those working in the cab trade were less convinced, with only 41% backing the course for existing drivers, and 56% for new drivers.
A council officer told the meeting that drivers who hadn’t supported the scheme might have regarded it as not being part of their job, and another thing “raining down upon them”. They might also have been unaware that the course would be free for existing drivers.
The meeting also approved (subject to full council sign-off) an updated borough policy on how to assess drivers’ backgrounds and any criminal convictions.
Other parts of Surrey are also reviewing their training and convictions policies, in line with the new cross-county approach.
Licensing committee minutes – see item 4.
Article in the Independent about Oxfordshire driver