From today, all taxi licensing authorities can request enhanced criminal record checks before issuing licences to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.
This means licensing authorities can find out if someone is barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority from working with children or vulnerable people before issuing a licence.
The changes will help simplify the system of criminal record checks, and provide reassurance to women and other vulnerable customers who use taxis and mini-cabs.
Criminal Information Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Taxi drivers provide a vital service so it is only right that the public are confident proper checks have been carried out.
‘Good recruitment practices are a key responsibility for all employers. These changes will ensure that licensing authorities have access to relevant information to make informed decisions before granting taxi licences.
Until today, only drivers who regularly pick up vulnerable people, including children, have been eligible for enhanced checks. Today’s change will standardise this practice for all drivers.
The announcement has been welcomed by groups campaigning for women’s safety.
Director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust Linda Craig said: ‘We encourage the public to use licensed minicabs and taxis and these changes will give licensing authorities the information necessary to ensure that the public who use them are as safe as possible.’
Tighter checks on taxi drivers are part of a radical overhaul of the criminal records regime and vetting and barring, scaling it back to common sense levels, while still ensuring adequate protections are in place where they are needed most.