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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
January 25, 2018

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Transport

Campaigners warn Worboys case highlights failure in driver safety checks

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has warned that the case of convicted rapist John Worboys highlights a “significant failure” in taxi driver safety checks.

Worboys, 60, was jailed for a minimum term of eight years in 2009 for drugging and sexually assaulting women passengers.

But the Parole Board recently announced it has decided to free the black cab driver after a decade behind bars, which was met with a furore by his victims, MPs and campaigners.

Protection for women

In a statement, the trust which was established to protect women from violence, and campaigns on lone working issues, said it was concerned Worboys was able to “mis-use his position of trust” as a taxi driver and carry out serious crimes, despite some survivors reporting incidents to the police as early as 2002.

The trust said while his release from prison is concerning, his authorisation to hold a taxi driver licence for so long “highlights a significant failure in the system that reviews drivers’ suitability to hold such a licence”.

“The inadequacy of processes to highlight the risk posed by some drivers has led to horrific cases such as the murder of Sian Callaghan in Swindon by private hire driver Christopher Halliwell in 2011 and the abuse of vulnerable young people in Rotherham,” said the trust.

“It is imperative that systems are robust to assure passengers that drivers have been vetted to the highest possible standard to prevent those who may pose a risk to public safety from obtaining a licence,” it added.

Release

Last week, the justice secretary David Gauke told MPs the Government would not be launching a judicial review to challenge the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys.

“Let me be absolutely clear, Worboys will not be released until their representations have been properly considered and his licence conditions are in place,” said Mr Gauke.

“Indeed last week I asked for assurances that the views of victims were being taken into account and that robust licensing conditions would be put in place to manage his risk.”

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