Taxi drivers to face enhanced checks following Rotherham child abuse scandal
All taxi and private hire drivers could have to pass enhanced criminal record checks following a campaign by Rotherham survivor Sammy Woodhouse in the wake of the town's child abuse scandal.
The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on new licensing guidelines to better protect passengers.
It comes after Sammy, who was abused by gang-leader Arshid Hussain in Rotherham as a teenager, successfully fought for CCTV to be mandatory in cabs in Rotherham.
The latest consultation will also consider whether CCTV should be compulsory in taxis and private hire vehicles across the country.
Sammy said: “It’s good news but what’s important is that it’s put into legislation not just guidelines.”
The Department for Transport said any video recording systems would be encrypted so that footage could only be accessed if a crime was reported.
The government also said it would introduce national minimum standards for drivers.
This would include establishing a national licensing database and potentially stopping drivers from operating hundreds of miles away from where they were licensed.
Prof Alexis Jay found that taxi drivers had been involved in transporting and abusing children in Rotherham, when she published her report in 2014.
Sammy, 33, said: “It was mentioned in the Jay Report that’s why I started the campaign. I thought what can we do to prevent it happening and that’s when I started calling for CCTV and then I thought this is about all forms of crime.
“Putting all this in place could prevent crime and since CCTV and audio recordings were brought into Rotherham crime rates have dropped.
“Look at how much trouble the drivers have on a weekend when people are getting in drunk and the recordings act as evidence to get a conviction.”
Taxis minister Nusrat Ghani said: "While the vast majority of drivers are safe and act responsibly, we have seen too many cases where taxi and minicab drivers have used their job to prey on vulnerable people, women and children.
"These rules would make sure that drivers are fit to carry passengers, keeping people safe while stopping those with bad intentions from getting behind the wheel of a taxi or minicab."
The DfT said new guidelines would be consistent across the country.
The consultation will run until 22 April.