Published: Friday, 21st October 2016
Broadland District Council is requiring the drivers of all of the district's 232 private hire vehicles to attend a safeguarding course.
The course will help them spot signs that vulnerable people could be at risk, know how to report concerns and to whom. No licenses will be renewed unless a driver has attended and anyone applying for a license will have to complete a course.
Keeping residents safe and secure is one of the council's six key ambitions. Cllr Shelagh Gurney, chairman of the Broadland District Council regulatory committee, who also attended the first course today, said:
“We wanted to take this initiative because we could see its potential to improve the safety of all vulnerable people. Licenses are renewed every three years. It could take a while before everyone has had the training but we offered it free to any existing driver who completes it before November 16 to encourage drivers to sign up straight away.”
Some drivers were perpetrators in the child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham but others might have been able to help prevent it if they had understood what to look out for and what to do about it.
Victor Bond is proprietor of Canary Taxis. He is sending his drivers on the course having run his own in-house safeguarding training for some time.
"I think it's essential that all drivers learn about safeguarding," he said. "I'm glad to see that Broadland is now running these courses. We're 100 per cent behind it."
Zack Cowley is a driver at Enterprise Taxis who has taken the course. He thinks drivers should know about what has gone on in other places.
"I learnt my lesson the hard way," he said. "The course emphasises things I've learnt from my mistakes so other drivers don't have to make them.
"It covers how to talk to women in cars and so on. Drivers should also know about the grooming that's been going on in other places. We're in a position to spot the signs," he said. "Sitting in cars waiting for people you can see if the same person is changing cars, things like that. And we do a lot of school runs."
An initial 10 courses have been arranged and 159 drivers have already signed up.