Mandatory training and stricter use of criminal records are among new measures to be introduced as part of a tougher licensing policy for taxi and private hire drivers.
Last week Cherwell District and South Northants councils launched their joint private hire and hackney carriage licensing policy to improve safety for people who use taxis.
The policy means the introduction of compulsory safeguarding training to make drivers more alert to the risks that passengers face and to encourage vigilance in the reporting of any misconduct or criminality.
Drivers will also have to pass a ‘fit and proper peson’ test, which examines would-be cabbies for general demeanour and honesty, as well as new spoken English tests and a stronger criminal records check.
Applications from those convicted of the most serious offences will be refused altogether and the period of good behaviour required from applicants with spent convictions for lesser offences has been increased from three to 10 years.
Dermot Bambridge, SNC’s councillor for environmental services, said: “The safety of the public travelling in and around the district is paramount and it is our responsibility to minimise any potential risks to people using taxis or private hire vehicles – particularly passengers who may be vulnerable, such as children and those who may have had too much to drink.”
A penalty points scheme will keep track of infringements and the council will be empowered to revoke licences in cases of serious or repeated offences.
The policy takes into account recommendations from the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board following reports into child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire and in Rotherham.
A drop-in sessions for taxi drivers will take place on January 26 and February 2, in the council chamber at The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester between 10am and noon.
For further information visit www.southnorthants.gov.uk/828.htm or call 01327 322278.