99 per cent of taxi driver complaints ‘end in stalemate’ says Sheffield Council officer

The panel at a community meeting about the impact of the Jay report. Picture: Andrew Roe
The panel at a community meeting about the impact of the Jay report. Picture: Andrew Roe
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About ‘99 per cent’ of complaints involving taxi drivers ‘end in stalemate’ instead of being taken further, according to a Sheffield Council officer in charge of cab licensing.

There have been 460 complaints lodged involving drivers in Sheffield since 2010, Clive Stephenson, head of licensing strategy and policy officer at the council, told a community meeting organised to discuss child sexual exploitation.

The meeting, held at Nether Edge Primary School, involved key figures discussing how to rebuild in the wake of the Rotherham scandal.

The Jay Report into the abuse scandal outlined taxi drivers had been involved in trafficking vulnerable children, including from Rotherham to Sheffield, for exploitation.

Drivers at the meeting said they had been dealing with assaults against them since the Jay Report.

But Mr Stephenson said there was ‘little’ the council can do to stop assaults and ‘99 per cent’ of complaints involving taxi drivers – most of which are against drivers – are not taken further.

Asked how the council protects drivers, he said: “From an assaults point of view there’s only so much you can do as a department because the driver in that situation has money on them, they are alone.

“We can only give training aspects about how to deal with that situation and aid taxi firms to keep a track on their drivers. What we can do is react to complaints.”

Mr Stephenson outlined how the council deals with taxi complaints, adding: “Ninety per cent of complaints are against the driver, but we put in place many years ago that we won’t accept phone call complaints.

“We don’t do anything until we’ve spoken to that driver. And then our officers will investigate. But 99 per cent of them end up in a stalemate because it’s one person against another and nobody else was there. So a lot of our complainants think we’ve let them down, same as the drivers.

“When we suspend, nine times out of 10 it’s when the police charge. We won’t take action on arrest, we won’t take action on hearsay. If the police get in contact with us and they’ve charged a driver if it falls into a certain category, I will suspend that licence from that day forward until it’s cleared up.”

Mr Stephenson added: “We have about 2,400 licensed drivers now. Currently there are none arrested or charged with an offence.

“From 2010 to today, there have been just over 460 complaints made against drivers. That ranges from general arguments, overcharging, state of the vehicles, everything.”