Leeds cabbies to be trained to help spot children at risk of sex exploitation

TAXI DRIVERS and private hire operators in a Yorkshire city are to undergo training to help spot children who are at risk of being sexually exploited.

The training, which is expected to be rolled out from February, will see drivers in Leeds receive safeguarding training and advice in a bid to keep youngsters away from potential predators.

The announcement in the wake of the child sex exploitation scandal in Rotherham after Professor Alexis Jay’s independent inquiry identified as many as 1,400 victims in the town. The report highlighted “significant concerns” that taxi and private hire vehicles had been used to move victims of sexual exploitation around the town and to other cities.

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Jane Held, the independent chairwoman of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Protecting children and young people from any risk remains a top priority for the council. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is an extremely complex issue which means that it is not a straightforward challenge to address.

“Perpetrators will often go to extremes to commit these offences so is vital that we consider all avenues to best protect those who may be at risk.

“As part of our on-going review into safeguarding controls in taxi and private hire licensing, we are updating the safeguarding training currently provided to licenced operators, drivers and taxi escorts. A safeguarding awareness course is being developed to help individuals identify and have a greater awareness of the issues of CSE and trafficking.”

Work is also taking place in Leeds to understand how to improve safeguarding intelligence and share it between police, licensing and other agencies.