Taxi and private hire drivers in Rugby will be trained in spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation as a requirement of their licence.
Rugby Borough Council’s cabinet approved the mandatory training with Barnado’s to help cabbies tackle child grooming at a meeting on Monday (June 26).
Portfolio holder for the environment and public realm Lisa Parker said: “Taxi and private hire drivers are often alone with vulnerable young people and are well placed to provide help or support when they spot something that doesn’t feel right.
“I know that the voluntary training has already made a difference, and it is right to make it compulsory.
“It is a credit to the trade that nearly all of the licensed drivers in Rugby have already chosen to attend.”
A pilot scheme saw 241 (94 per cent) of drivers licensed by the council voluntarily attend the training, with 80 per cent of those attending giving the course positive feedback.
The 15 drivers who did not attend and the 26 new holders will now have to complete the training as a requirement of holding a licence.
Councillors heard that poor monitoring of taxi and private hire drivers in Rotherham contributed to the ease with which abusers were able to exploit children in the town.
A council spokesman said while there is good communication in Rugby between the council’s licensing team and the police, with some joint operations targeting taxis, the authorities cannot monitor all the time.
Plus it is essential taxi drivers are trained to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation themselves, the spokesman added.
If drivers are trained to look for and recognise the signs of potential abuse and know where to report their concerns, they can help stop vulnerable children and young people being exploited, according to the council.
Anyone who has a concern about a child or young person can call the Warwickshire County Council children’s team on 01926 410410.