WINCHESTER taxi drivers have completed a safeguarding course to spot signs of exploitation, domestic abuse and human trafficking.

The Government has issued guidance for consultation recommending licensing authorities make safeguarding, child sexual abuse and exploitation awareness training mandatory for all licensed taxi and private hire drivers.

Winchester City Council has made it compulsory for all private hire and taxi drivers to attend a new three-hour safeguarding course.

The first courses, held on July 23 at King’s Community Church in Hedge End, was attended by 27 drivers and 12 representatives from taxi licensing authorities.

Designed and run by The Blue Lamp Trust, the police-approved classroom-based course supports the Government’s aim to increase awareness among drivers.

Chief trainer on the course is Marty Farrow who is a former police trainer and co-owner at Farrow Risk Management, a Portsmouth based company.

He said: “The very nature of their role brings them into contact with a wide range of people some of whom may be at risk.

“Passengers often talk to the driver and may raise concerns, or a driver may suspect there’s a safeguarding issue. By taking safeguarding training, drivers are made aware and are then in a position to make that phone call and that call may save an at-risk person from abuse.”

The course covers identifying children and adults at risk, recognizing types of abuse, associated signs and indicators, identifying suspicious activities and knowing how and where to report concerns.

David Watkins, business development manager at the Trust, said: “The course is being run to educate taxi drivers so that they understand what safeguarding is all about, understand their responsibilities, know what to look for and how to report any issues.

“We have got off to a fantastic start and we hope that more authorities will see the benefit of the course and the good that can come from having taxi and private trained in how to recognise safeguarding issues and how to report any concerns.”