TAXI drivers in Shropshire will face more strenuous checks under plans by the council to tighten its licensing regulations.

Shropshire Council’s cabinet agreed to the new policy at a meeting on Wednesday, which in some cases will prevent taxi drivers refused a licence in one area getting one elsewhere.

The council said it hopes the move, which it says is an “enhancement” of its previous policy, will help prevent child sexual exploitation (CSE).

The council said the proposals will put private hire operators under more scrutiny than before, with drivers’ licensing histories being recorded on a national database set up by government earlier this year.

Any driver who has previously had their licence revoked or refused will be recorded and in some cases prevented from obtaining a licence in the future.

The new policy will come into force on April 1, members were told by Councillor Gwilym Butler, portfolio holder for communities and place planning.

Councillor Butler proposed the changes were accepted, which they were unanimously.

In a report to the cabinet, Professor Rod Thomson, the council’s director of public health, said: “The proposed policy is fundamental to protecting public safety and keeping people from harm.

“It also wholly supports the council’s wider priorities and outcomes associated with promoting health, managing the environment and helping people to help themselves in order to improve community resilience.

“The proposed policy specifically takes account of the council’s safeguarding responsibilities, particularly in relation to tackling sexual exploitation, including child sexual exploitation (CSE), wider exploitation and abuse, including modern slavery and human trafficking, particularly of children and adults with care and support needs.

“The proposed policy aims to support and facilitate the council’s need to work with and share information with other agencies to identify and prevent exploitation in its widest sense in order to protect children, young people and adults with care and support needs and to disrupt related activities using relevant provisions of licensing and other legislation and, where appropriate, to prosecute perpetrators of abuse.”

It adds: “The proposed policy significantly increases the criteria that must be satisfied before a person will be deemed a ‘fit and proper person’ to be a licensed private hire operator or to hold a vehicle licence as a vehicle proprietor.

“The criteria that must be met in relation to a driver’s licence continue to be informed by the findings of the Independent Enquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997 – 2013 and now also take into account the wider implications of exploitation generally, including modern slavery and human trafficking.

“The ongoing concerns associated with child sexual exploitation that continue to be explored and investigated by Telford & Wrekin Council and other local authorities across the country have also influenced the criteria.”