The Government's reluctance to tackle a loophole in taxi licensing, which could leave children and vulnerable adults at risk of abuse, is ‘deeply concerning’, a senior MP has said.
In a report published in August, the Communities and Local Government Committee identified the potential for strict licensing requirements introduced by some local authorities to be undermined by taxis that are licensed by authorities with less stringent rules but are able to operate in the area.
Committee chair Clive Betts MP
It recommended that the Government should bring forward statutory guidance in relation to taxi licensing and then monitor its effectiveness, considering legislation if the guidance is not effective.
In its response, the Government said it ‘strongly agrees with this recommendation’ and that the Policing and Crime Bill, currently before Parliament, will enable statutory guidance on safeguarding for taxi and private hire licensing to be issued.
However, it said it will ‘consider the additional recommendation to monitor national compliance following publication of the statutory guidance’.
MPs criticised the Government’s approach, citing the mandatory CCTV introduced by Rotherham Borough Council following the area’s child abuse scandal as an example of a measure that could be undermined by taxis licensed by other councils.
Committee chair Clive Betts MP said: ‘Children and vulnerable adults will remain at risk in Rotherham for as long as the local authority's tough new licensing rules can be undermined by taxis from other areas.
‘The Government must monitor the new statutory guidance for taxi licensing when it is introduced to see that it not only ensures consistently high standards across the country but also enables local authorities to put in place and enforce specific measures appropriate for their areas. If the guidance fails in this regard, then the Government should legislate.
‘The reluctance of Ministers to commit to either of these actions is deeply concerning.’