Wrangle over taxi drivers' safety checks
TAXI drivers across Britain could be less rigorously vetted in future, but Ipswich is set to push for enhanced checks.At the moment, Ipswich Borough Council carries out enhanced checks with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), which include a full run-down on past convictions stored nationally and a request for other intelligence information held by local police.
TAXI drivers across Britain could be less rigorously vetted in future, but Ipswich is set to push for enhanced checks.
At the moment, Ipswich Borough Council carries out enhanced checks with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), which include a full run-down on past convictions stored nationally and a request for other intelligence information held by local police.
But the Home Office wants to cut the number of people eligible for enhanced checks in a bid to ease pressure on the CRB, which has struggled to meet demand since it was set up in 2002.
It is proposing that councils should only be able to ask for a standard check - which does not include local intelligence - unless drivers are normally left in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults, such as under a school or care home contract.
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An Ipswich Borough Council spokesperson said today: "Ipswich Borough Council has always carried out enhanced criminal record checks on taxi drivers and private hire drivers. These checks are done on new drivers and repeated every three years. We view these checks as an important safeguard for the travelling public.
"We will be discussing the consultation document regarding the proposed government changes to this process over the next six weeks. A formal response will then be submitted to the Home Office accordingly. It is likely that the council will seek to retain the ability to obtain enhanced criminal record checks for all taxi/private hire drivers."
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The government is also increasing the price of checks on people who work with children from £4 to £28 for a standard CRB check, and £33 for an enhanced check, and Home Office minister Hazel Blears said their CRB was processing double the number of checks than in the summer of last year.
In Suffolk the county council uses the CRB to check about 3,500 people each year who work with children and young people, so the new charges will cost about an extra £14,000 each year.
Tony Lewis, member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, said: "It is vital that these checks are carried out on people that are working with children and young people.
"I am disappointed that the charges have been increased so much by the Criminal Records Bureau. It is a price we have no control over, and which will inevitably put pressure on already tight budgets."
A Home Office spokesman said: "We have received representations that all taxi drivers should be subject to enhanced disclosures, but the case has not been made out. It appears that opinion within the industry itself is sharply divided on the issue."
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