Joint statement on safeguarding and transport by Leaders of all Oxfordshire councils
Local authorities in Oxfordshire are committed to minimising the risks to children being transported around the county, whether on council-commissioned journeys, or as private passengers.
The need to improve procedures was recognised as a result of an internal review of safeguarding and transport that was started by the county council before the OSCB report was commissioned. All Oxfordshire councils and the police are now working hard to develop a new, improved system for transporting children and vulnerable adults.
A working group overseen by the OSCB has already been set up to develop a single, county-wide approach for vetting taxi, drivers and proprietors and other transport providers, as well introducing compulsory training for all drivers. The enhanced procedure for vetting and training drivers will be incorporated in licensing systems for taxi and school transport providers, and will be implemented by all councils in the county.
Our aim is for every driver and every escort to have completed all the necessary assessments, vetting and safeguarding training as a condition of receiving his or her licence. This will raise the bar for safeguarding all children and vulnerable adults using transport services.
We are aiming for taxi licensing and school transport systems to be more efficient and effective, with improved information-sharing between councils.
It is important to stress that this approach is not about placing blame on taxi drivers. The whole community is responsible for looking out for children and vulnerable adults, and this is an opportunity for taxi drivers to play an important role in protecting them. However it is vitally important that we have a robust system that reduces the risk of unsafe drivers obtaining licences.
Our collective commitment to children and their families is to develop and implement safeguards for transport that will give greater confidence to all users. The role of transport services in safeguarding children is an issue which has general prominence across the whole country and it is our ambition to set a national standard for vetting and training drivers and escorts.
Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader, Vale of White Horse District Council
Cllr John Cotton, Leader, South Oxfordshire District Council
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader, Oxfordshire County Council
Cllr Barry Norton, Leader, West Oxfordshire District Council
Cllr Bob Price, Leader, Oxford City Council
Cllr Barry Wood, Leader, Cherwell District Council