Drivers licensed by the controversial City of Wolverhampton Council have been suspected of serious sexual offences according to a BBC report. Sickening allegations include one of child sexual exploitation have been made against minicab drivers licensed in Wolverhampton, but due to cross-boarder regulations in England and Wales, work outside their licensing authority. The BBC report that there has been an astonishing seven allegations of child sexual exploitation made, and 16 serious sexual allegations against minicab drivers licensed in Wolverhampton, but working further afield. The allegations include:
A serious sexual allegation made against a Wolverhampton driver working in Southampton in October 2017
A driver from the Midlands authority being accused of involvement in child sexual exploitation on 16 June 2017 in Bolsover, Derbyshire
A serious sexual allegation reported more than 70 miles away from Wolverhampton in Mansfield on 3 October 2016
City of Wolverhampton Council did however confirm that they revoked the driver licenses with immediate effect. This week, the government said it was tightening taxi safety guidelines and considering stopping drivers from operating hundreds of miles away from where they were licensed. City of Wolverhampton Council have long come under fire from the taxi and private hire industry due to the increased number of licences it has issued since the Deregulation Act 2015 was introduced. Wolverhampton have been seen as an easier and cheaper way to become licensed in cities that offer a more stringent licensing process. The changes to regulation nearly four years ago means drivers no longer need to live or work in the area of the local authority that granted them a licence. Wolverhampton did however claim that their tests are one of toughest in the country with around 50 percent of private hire licence applicants failing to pass the current tests set out by the Council according to report in TaxiPoint in autumn 2018. Council bosses said drivers were tested on various regulations surrounding the job, including what passengers can and cannot do and where they need to display their badges. Those who fail are not granted a licence. Chairman of the council's licensing committee, Councillor Alan Bolshaw, said: “The assessment and examination process is robust and of a very high quality. We believe it to be proportional to the job of a private hire driver and as a result there is a significant failure rate which highlights the fact it is difficult." A number of protests have taken place in the city centre by Taxi drivers to highlight their concerns of how many licenses are being granted to drivers who not only work in Wolverhampton but in surrounding cities also.