Taxi drivers trained to spot exploitation

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Liverpool taxis. Photo by David Purcell © JMU Journalism

Liverpool taxis. Photo by David Purcell © JMU Journalism

Taxi drivers operating in Liverpool will be trained to identify situations of sexual violence, in an effort to safeguard young people across the city.

Lessons which are specific to sexual exploitation already play a part in the initial training of new taxi drivers, but the decision taken by Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Committee means that existing drivers will also be required to partake in the exercise.

Currently, there are approximately 4,700 licensed taxi drivers operating within the area, and while their licenses only need to be renewed once every three years, the council expects every driver in Liverpool to have received child sexual exploitation training in the next 12 months.

A Liverpool City Council spokesman told JMU Journalism: “The thinking is that taxi drivers are in a position where they might be able to identify when children, or young people, could be at risk of being sexually exploited.

“The evidence, not just confined to Liverpool of course, is that there are children who are being sexually exploited. It’s one of those areas where it’s difficult to estimate exactly what the level is, but it would be naive to pretend it doesn’t happen. So, any method we can use to safeguard children, we will endeavour to try to prevent it.”

YouTube: The Children’s Society

Cabbies are obliged to undertake a two-hour training course, which has been developed in conjunction with both Merseyside Police and the council’s Safeguarding Board.

The session will be carried out by a licensing enforcement officer, free of charge, and each driver will receive a certificate after their training is complete – which they will be expected to produce when renewing their taxi licence.

Councillor Christine Banks, Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “Taxi drivers are among those workers who have a key role in protecting young people- as the report to the committee said they can be the ‘eyes and ears’ in spotting such activity.

“They can, for example notice young people being taken to different locations around the city and, while we are not asking them to eavesdrop on passengers, they could hear conversations which may indicate that a child is being exploited.

“The vast majority of taxi drivers would want to do all they can to protect young people and I am sure they will welcome this training which will better equip them to do so.”

About David Purcell, JMU Journalism