Licensing’s plans to improve safeguarding

By on 12/01/2016 in News

A report setting out how Birmingham City Council’s licensing service is helping to tackle child sexual exploitation will be discussed by councillors next week (20 January 2016).

Since the Casey Report into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham was published in February 2015, Birmingham’s licensing officers have looked at their practices and protocols to identify possible improvements.

The report, which will be presented to Licensing and Public Protection Committee on 20 January, also sets out actions to be taken, which includes:

  • Introducing a points system for licensed drivers and operators to capture all infringements, to help build a complete picture of individuals’ behaviour and identify trends;
  • Requiring all current and future licensed drivers and operators to attend a safeguarding awareness course;
  • Replacing Licensing’s SOPRA database to ensure information is shared between teams;
  • Reviewing and updating existing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licence conditions.

In September 2015 written advice was sent out to all licensed drivers as part of the See Me, Hear Me campaign across the West Midlands. Drivers will also receive specialist training to enable them to help tackle CSE. Training has already started for some hotel staff and night time economy workers in Birmingham so they can recognise the signs and help keep vulnerable children safe.

In October 2015, the council reviewed its Statement of Licensing Policy, which now includes a specific reference to child sexual exploitation.

When drivers and operators breach the conditions of their licence, this is reviewed by a licensing sub-committee: in October 2014 a driver’s licence was revoked with immediate effect, within 24-hours of information about an alleged CSE-related incident being received from West Midlands Police.

A private hire operator’s licence was also revoked by the sub-committee in relation to the same incident. In both cases the licences remain revoked.

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said:  “Tackling child sexual exploitation is hugely important, so it’s vital that the council’s licensing service can regulate our taxi and private hire drivers – who are in a position of trust – effectively.

“Officers took an objective look at the way we work and measured ourselves against mistakes that happened in Rotherham, to help identify ways in which we can improve our practices and safeguard children across Birmingham.

“This report and action plan, which contains proposals such as a points system to keep track of drivers’ incidents, demonstrates we as a licensing authority are not being complacent on this issue.”

ENDS

Media contact:  Emma Brady, Press and PR Officer, on 0121 303 6969 or email emma.brady@birmingham.gov.uk

Notes to editors: 

The report – Implications for the Casey Report on Licensing – can be found here.

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