South Yorkshire taxi drivers accused of rape and sex attacks on men and women

South Yorkshire taxi drivers accused of rape and sex attacks on men and women
South Yorkshire taxi drivers accused of rape and sex attacks on men and women
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Two South Yorkshire taxi drivers have been accused of rape, 15 have been accused of sexually assaulting women and three others have been accused of sex attacks on men over the last three years, new figures reveal.

The 20 incidents reported to South Yorkshire Police led to five drivers being charged, according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act.

In four of the cases suspects were never identified and in two the victims would not co-operate with police investigations.

With eight of the cases, suspects were identified but there was a lack of evidence for anyone to be prosecuted.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Steven Ashmore said: “Any allegations of sexual offences are taken incredibly seriously by South Yorkshire Police.

“We want victims of sexual crimes to feel confident to come forward and report offences to police so they can receive support and offenders can be apprehended and, wherever possible, prosecuted.

“The occupation of a suspect does not impact upon the police investigation into alleged sexual offences, as we thoroughly investigate all allegations of this nature to ensure the safety of the public.

“Quite rightly, though, the public expect to feel safe when using any of the region’s licensed taxi companies and we work closely with local authorities and other partner agencies across South Yorkshire to address any issues and raise any concerns."

Sheffield Council said it takes 'offences committed by licensed drivers extremely seriously' and once charged by the police drivers are suspended.

A spokeswoman said: “The licensing service at Sheffield City Council works closely with Sheffield Safeguarding Service and Children and Adults Board. We share information with each other and the police. Each case will be investigated.

“If the police bring charges against a license holder we will suspend them.

“Allegations may lead to further investigation by licensing officers, and then a decision will be taken as to the appropriate action to take, which can be immediate suspension.

“The individual can appeal the decision but we do not allow them to carry on working.

“In Sheffield we have high standards in relation to the licensing of vehicles and drivers

“If you apply for a hackney carriage or a private hire drivers licence you must undergo a DBS criminal records check to ensure that anyone who orders a taxi can be sure they are safe.

“Drivers are trained to observe a code of conduct, a breach can now lead to disciplinary procedures. Additionally we work with our taxi drivers to make sure they know how to identify suspicious behaviours and who to contact if they have any concerns.”

In Rotherham, of 24 licences revoked by Rotherham Council over recent years, 14 were for 'sexually inappropriate comments or conversations'.

CCTV cameras are fitted in all taxis licensed in the town.

Councillor Sue Ellis, Chairman of Rotherham Council’s Licensing Board, said: “We take all allegations of Rotherham Council licensed drivers behaving inappropriately extremely seriously.

“Drivers in Rotherham now operate to one of the most stringent policies in the country, including having cameras fitted in vehicles, and I would urge everybody to make sure that they ask for a Rotherham driver and that the camera is on and working.

“We encourage people to complain to us if they have any concerns regarding their journey in a Rotherham taxi. We want people to report any issues so that we can take action to ensure everyone has a safe journey in the future.”

Two Barnsley taxi drivers have had their licences revoked for sex offences over recent years.

Councillor Roy Miller, a member of Barnsley Council's cabinet, said: “Regulatory Services take the licensing of taxi drivers very seriously and have a robust process to deal with any applications, whether it is for a new licence or renewal, and licences are refused where necessary.

"Two drivers in the Barnsley area have had their licences revoked for sex offences in recent years. Protection and safety of the public are of paramount importance, and all allegations are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly with the appropriate action then taken and where necessary licences are suspended or revoked."

Doncaster Council did not respond.