New restrictions on background checks for taxi drivers are preventing councils from protecting children from sex offenders, town hall chiefs are warning.
The police are no longer providing councils with information on criminal investigations involving prospective taxi drivers due to an ongoing dispute with the Home Office, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.
The LGA also reported some councils have been told by the Disclosure and Barring Service that they can no longer check whether a prospective taxi driver has been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults unless they work on a school transport contract.
Council leaders say this lack of information could put children and vulnerable people at risk of becoming victims of sex crimes or trafficking.
Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘Taxi drivers routinely work with vulnerable adults and children as part of their daily work, regardless of whether they have a school contract or not. It is imperative that councils can keep checking applicants against barred lists and be able to find out if they are under criminal investigation.
‘The consequence could be councils unknowingly granting licences to people investigated for sexual offences and only finding out three years later when the driver renews the licence and has the conviction flagged up.’
The LGA is calling for certain clauses in the government’s Deregulation Bill to be deleted and a reform of taxi licensing to be undertaken.