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Taxis safeguarding children and vulnerable people

Human trafficking and child sexual exploitation

Everyone is becoming aware of the well-publicised issues relating to child sexual exploitation and human trafficking that have occurred throughout the country. These are abhorrent crimes, and we have a duty to assist the taxi and private hire trade and the public in tackling this issue, and to protect those who are vulnerable and / or being exploited.

We need the help of taxi and private hire drivers and operators to identify those who commit these crimes and protect those who most need our help.

Better understanding

Inside the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licence application pack you will find a page devoted to helping you, as a licence holder or applicant, to be aware of those who may be vulnerable or being exploited. Questions relating to this subject are asked within the local knowledge test that all new applicants must take as part of the criteria for the grant of a licence.

However, there is always more that can be done to help promote a better understanding of this subject. We hope this page helps show you how to:

  • identify people at risk
  • protect those who may be vulnerable or being exploited
  • ensure that your actions do not negatively contribute to such persons becoming victims
  • report your concerns to the relevant authorities

Vulnerable people include:

  • minors (those under 18 years of age)
  • people with learning difficulties or other special needs
  • anybody under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • lone travellers

What you can do to help those at risk

By using the safeguarding practices listed below you can help protect those who are vulnerable and/or being exploited. We need your help to bring to justice those who commit these crimes.

  • Check at the point of booking if there are any vulnerability issues. This will allow you to prepare for the journey in the right way.
  • If an escort or carer is required for a passenger check with the person making the booking that this has been arranged by them (this will not apply to school contracts provided on behalf of Amey / Buckinghamshire Council).
  • Let your operator know (or keep a record) of the time you picked up the vulnerable passenger, the time and place you dropped them off and whether there was any incident or anything significant on the journey.
  • If you refuse to take a passenger, inform someone that you can’t take them so they can deal with the person another way (e.g. hospital staff; family; security staff if a club/pub)
  • Record incidents and refusals
  • Be professional - try not to be over-friendly or talk about personal or intimate issues, don't exchange personal contact information such as passengers’ telephone numbers or Facebook address.
  • Avoid swearing or aggressive behaviour.
  • Do not touch passengers.
  • Never accept an offer of a sexual favour instead of payment.
  • Make sure you are clearly displaying your identity badge
  • Sit lone passengers in the back.
  • Ask or explain to passengers if using a centralised locking system - don't just put it on without an explanation.
  • Don't assume that your passenger wants help - always ask.
  • Never follow a passenger into the house unless previously agreed/properly authorised
  • Ask before making a journey shorter by going off the main roads/using isolated country roads, explain and give the passenger (or person booking) a choice of route.
  • Never set off with a passenger without a specific destination address
  • When carrying a child or vulnerable person, never double up on a booking – even if passengers are travelling in a similar direction, they may pose a threat or risk to the other passenger.
  • If you think the passenger is afraid, advise then to ring a friend or family member to give them your details and / or vehicle details plus the approximate time of arrival; this reassures the person that they are safe and someone is monitoring the trip.
  • As with all professions, if you are concerned about another driver’s conduct report your concerns to your operator or the relevant agency.
  • Organisations should have a lead member of staff for safeguarding; this person should be able to advise colleagues about how to manage vulnerable passengers and any incidents arising.
  • Always keep a record either in your vehicle or at the operating centre, of any incidents or situations you were not happy with – the record should include a description of what happened and what you did to keep yourself and your passenger safe.

These safeguarding tips are taken from Oxford City Council's Taxi and Private Hire Safeguarding Presentation (external link), which available to download.

Who to contact

If you think you may be carrying someone who is vulnerable and/or the victim of exploitation, get in touch with the relevant authorities and organisations listed below. 

If safe to do so, you can also signpost services to the passenger by offering contact cards or making window stickers visible (stickers and cards can be obtained from our Council Offices).

  • Police 999: call the 999 emergency number if you believe an assault has taken place, is likely to, or that the risk is imminent.
  • Police 101: record and report concerns by calling 101 and / or contacting the safeguarding services if a child or vulnerable adult is involved. See the Thames Valley Police website for further information and to report your concerns.
  • Crimestoppers: contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 
  • Wycombe Community Safety Partnership: contact us on 01494 421 876.