In the driving seat to spot the danger signs

Taxi sign

Posted on: 19 September 2016

From slavery to child exploitation – would you spot the signs of someone in danger, right here in North Devon? What if they were sat in your taxi – would you know what to do?

To raise awareness of issues surrounding vulnerable people, North Devon Council is providing taxi and private hire drivers with information on how to recognise and report a vulnerable person who may be at risk.

At a Licensing Committee meeting last week (Tuesday 13 September), councillors supported the proactive approach.

Chair of the committee, Councillor Jasmine Chesters, said: “People often think things like modern day slavery and child sexual exploitation are only urban problems. However, this is not the case. These kind of issues can occur anywhere and, as key community contacts, our taxi and private hire drivers could find themselves suspecting their passengers are at risk, but not really know what to do. Therefore, we want to make sure they know what to look out for – perhaps a child is being picked up by an unknown adult, they’re concerned about a passenger being controlled by another, or even unusual travel times to an unlikely place of work. There are so many scenarios and we hope drivers will take the opportunity to learn how to recognise the signs, to report their concerns and to hopefully help anyone at risk in the process.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, is also supporting the initiative. She said: “Protecting vulnerable people in our local communities should be a priority for us all, so I welcome any ways of achieving this. Supporting the taxi and private hire drivers in this way is an excellent idea.”

The safeguarding information will be placed in the council’s next local taxi and private hire newsletter. Details will also be placed in new drivers’ packs and on the council’s website.

To further support the initiative, North Devon and Torridge Community Safety Partnership is organising training for taxi and private hire drivers, along with other night-time workers, such as door staff and takeaway staff. It is hoped this training will be offered in the next two months, with further details to follow in due course.

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Posted in: Environment