Sunderland taxi drivers who skip safeguarding training to face licence suspensions under new rules
Taxi drivers in Sunderland could have their licences suspended if they fail to take part in training around safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.
Licensing bosses are set to introduce new rules for hackney carriage and private hire drivers in the city in line with recommendations from the Government.
From April 1, new drivers entering the trade would need to carry out ‘prescribed training’ and a knowledge test before submitting an application form for a licence.
Existing taxi drivers would also have to complete the training within three months of an invitation letter or their licences would be suspended.
The suspension would remain in place until the training is completed.
Sunderland City Council’s Regulatory Committee will be asked to approve the shake-up next week.
Key changes include compulsory training, course fees and penalties for those who fail to carry out online courses.
A report prepared for councillors states there are more than 1,200 licensed drivers in the city.
Last year, around 900 taxi drivers attended optional safeguarding training sessions, which were offered by the council free of charge.
Despite extra sessions being arranged, hundreds of drivers failed to attend.
Council bosses say that the new licensing regime will ensure taxi drivers understand safeguarding issues and forms of abuse.
This ranges from hate crime, mate crime and children involved in domestic violence to sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Training also covers duty of care issues, how to report and raise concerns, working with vulnerable children and adults and disability awareness.
Once drivers have completed training they will have to take refresher courses when their licence is reviewed and every three years after.
Training will be offered through an online portal at a cost of around £10 for each driver.
A council report goes on to say: “Whilst earlier training sessions were provided to existing drivers free of charge by the council, in view of budgetary constraints, moving forward drivers will be required to contribute to the costs of future courses.”
Licensing bosses will rule on the proposals on Monday, March 2 at Sunderland CIvic Centre. The meeting starts at 10am.