Taxi Drivers and local councils have been subject to some pretty severe criticism in recent years. A series of high-profile safeguarding failings directly involving the taxi licensing industry have hugely affected public confidence in the taxi trade and the local council’s ability to safeguard them.
In Rotherham, an estimated 1,400 children were victims of sexual abuse including abduction, rape, torture and sex trafficking between 1997 and 2013. Professor Alexis Jay, who compiled a report on the Rotherham scandal, highlighted the role taxi drivers played in facilitating the abuse, failures of the local council and the police to deal with reports of abuse.
Reports like this have emphasised the importance of safeguarding awareness for taxi drivers and licensing staff to ensure the safety of the vulnerable in their community.
It is no surprise that councils nationwide have rushed to implement safeguarding training for their drivers in an attempt to combat these issues. But will the real objectives and quality of the training be lost in the haste? Safeguarding is certainly not a tick-box exercise, the aim should be to make local communities a safer place.
The vast majority of Taxi Drivers in the UK are decent, honest people that just want to earn a living. Yes there are a few bad apples, as there are in any profession, but most drivers take immense pride in the job they do. It is vitally important that the council and the taxi trade work together in an effort to ensure their towns and cities are a safe place to ride in a taxi. The approach to safeguarding awareness is vital in achieving this goal.
It is futile to simply conduct a basic safeguarding training session that just informs drivers that CSE and Human Trafficking are wrong. This is news to nobody. The few drivers that are hell-bent on committing a heinous crime of this nature are unlikely to be persuaded against doing so by a half an hour training session.
Safeguarding awareness needs to be about empowerment
Taxi drivers need to feel like part of the solution, NOT the problem. They need to be given the confidence to identify and report safeguarding issues to help stamp out CSE and Human Trafficking.
Over the course of a weekend, taxi drivers will come into contact with just as many vulnerable people as any police officer or paramedic, and they need to know the tell-tale signs that someone may be at risk of abuse. If safeguarding training is going to be effective, this needs to form the basis of the session.
The training needs to promote the council, the police and the taxi trade collaborating to safeguard the public and should NOT be about telling the drivers not to be naughty! Any driver intent on committing an offence is unlikely to change their ways because of a training session.
What is going to stop them, is if their fellow drivers are tuned into indicators of risk and know the proper reporting procedures.
The PC Approach
The Personnel Checks Safeguarding Awareness Campaign, called Trust2Ride, is designed to do just that. The 2 hour long, interactive sessions are designed to get the drivers talking about safeguarding issues and how they can be prevented.
The session is a combination of PowerPoint training, videos, role plays and group activities designed to empower the drivers and help them see the important role they have in safeguarding their communities. The session tackles safeguarding issues head on as well as covering topics such as driver safety and general best practice.
By working with the drivers, councils can ensure situations like Rotherham and other well-publicised stories will not occur again.
For more information about our interactive sessions, get in touch!