A number of applications made in the last five years for taxi driver licences in Doncaster have been made by people with criminal records for sex offences, violent crime and drug-related offences.
Figures from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) obtained using a Freedom of Information request shows more than one in five requests and secondary checks on taxi/private hire licences was from an individual with a previous criminal conviction.
According to the figures, 1,588 DBS checks were carried out for taxi or private hire licences related to Doncaster between April 2013 and March 2018. Of these, 320 showed previous criminal convictions – almost 23 per cent.
These included 120 checks which flagged previous convictions for violent offences.
The figures also included convictions for drug related offences and 15 sex offences which include indecent exposure towards a female, indecent assault on both males and females, gross indecency and soliciting a woman for prostitution from a motor vehicle.
Doncaster Council said they have ‘stringent policies’ and drivers undergo a DBS check every three years resulting in some results being duplicated.
Anyone wanting to become a driver needs to pass a knowledge test, a medical, a practical driving test and a safeguarding awareness course in place prior to submission of their application.
At the point of application a DBS check will be carried out and a decision will be made as to whether the applicant is ‘fit and proper’.
Gill Gillies, assistant director of environment, said: “Doncaster Council has stringent taxi licensing policies.
“All taxi licence applicants must produce an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) certificate and all existing licence holders are required to produce this certificate every three years.
“The figures provided cover a five year period, which does mean a number of the results will be a duplication as drivers will have been checked at least twice during that period.
“An enhanced DBS shows all convictions, including those which are considered to be ‘spent’ due to the number of years which have passed since the date of the conviction.
“I would like to reassure the public that we have a rigorous system in place to determine if a person is considered ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence. Our over-riding consideration is always the protection of the public to ensure the highest levels of public safety and practice. We refuse inappropriate applications and can suspend and revoke existing drivers when needed.”
A spokesman for the Disclosure and Barring Service, said: "We work to protect vulnerable groups in society, including children. Safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do at the DBS and we play a vital role in keeping people safe.
Since our foundation five years ago, we have issued more than 22 million disclosure certificates to help employers make safer recruitment decisions.”