Laura Sharman 25 September 2014

Taxi reforms pose 'serious' risk to vulnerable children warn council leaders

Children could be at greater risk of sexual exploitation under government plans to reform taxi licensing, town hall chiefs are warning.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said proposals set out within the Deregulation Bill will make it easier for criminal gangs to use licensed vehicles to groom, abuse and traffic children. Under the proposals, people other than the minicab licence holder will be able to drive the vehicle when they are off-duty.

The LGA warn that abusers in both Rotherham and Rochdale used minicabs to target vulnerable children, and called on the Government not to relax controls in this area.

Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, chair of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘Recent child sex abuse cases in Rotherham and Rochdale are a stark reminder of the position of trust that people put in taxi drivers and the vulnerability of some passengers.

‘There is a determination across local government that nothing like this can be allowed to happen again. That is why we remain deeply concerned about the Government's plan to relax taxi licensing laws which we believe will make it easier for criminal gangs to target vulnerable children for sexual exploitation.’

The LGA said the consequences of not having councils carrying out rigorous checks on licence holders could be ‘devastating’.

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