Effective action to tackle the link between taxi drivers and child sexual exploitation offences was “never taken” by Rotherham Council despite strong evidence of what was happening.
A report into taxi licensing issues in the town found the council has agreed a “new robust taxi licensing policy, which has been introduced and enforced”.
But the report did find there had been a past failure to deal with the link between the taxi trade and CSE in the past.
It said: “There was a good deal of intelligence which suggested that elements of the taxi trade were heavily involved in CSE in Rotherham.
“Effective action was never taken because the enforcement function was ineffective. A major reason for this was the decision to take the enforcement function out of the main licensing unit in 2007 and to divide the three enforcement officers between three geographical regions. The enforcement officers predicted difficulties and although they were co-located for three years, they were found to be correct.”
It said senior managers “were not aware of the full extent of the problem with CSE and the taxi service”.
While the report did say improvements have now been made, one councillor said families in Rotherham still do not feel safe allowing their teenage children to travel alone in taxis.
Ukip councillor Nigel Simpson said despite council claims that tougher regulations were tackling the previously-reported involvement of some town taxi drivers in child sexual exploitation offences, there remains a lack of public confidence that things have actually improved.
“I said to people ‘Would you put your 14-year-old in a taxi in Rotherham?’ and the resounding answer was ‘No way’. We still have a long way to go,” he said.