Driver hired for school run had sex assault record

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The Independent Online

A taxi driver operating a school run service was hired despite a string of convictions for sexual assaults, an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman reveals today.

His history only came to light after he had sexually assaulted a vulnerable boy who he was driving to school.

The driver, employed by a private taxi company hired by the London Borough of Camden, was given a clean record after checks had been made with the Criminal Records Bureau. It gave him an enhanced certificate giving him the green light to work with children.

What it had failed to uncover was that he had a list of criminal convictions overseas and had even been the subject of an arrest warrant.

A report by the Ombudsman criticises Camden Council for the way it handled the outsourcing of its school transport service – and found it guilty of maladministration. It recommended the authority pay £1,000 in compensation to the boy's mother for the distress that had been caused, plus £220 for her costs in pursuing the case.

Dr Jane Martin, the Local Government Ombudsman said: “The complainant will always be left with some doubt that the council could have done more to protect her child.”

She added that the mother “has brought some important issues into the public domain”.

The report outlines how - in November 2008 – the boy had told his mother he had been sexually assaulted and the driver had give him sweets in return.

He had been driven to school in the company of an escort – a dinner lady employed by the council.

The driver was sentenced to an indeterminate prison sentence as a result with a recommendation he serve no less than two-and-a-half years. No criminal action was taken against the escort – although she cannot now be found.

The report uncovered that the driver had been the subject of a CRB check in May 2006 - and was given a temporary license.

In August, the CRB apologised for delays in dealing with the check but failed to disclose this was because information was “in conflict”. An enhanced CRB certificate was issued in December.

Regulations insist all applicants for driving jobs have to state whether they have lived in any country other than the UK in the past two or three years and supply a “certificate of good conduct” from that country if they have. However, the report acknowledges that the residency question “relied upon the honesty of the applicant”.

Camden Council, it says has now amended its procedures to ensure that all agencies working for it insist on having references covering their past five years of employment.

The Crown Prosecution Service is now investigating the way the CRB handled the criminal record check.

“This investigation has highlighted a number of learning points which have implications for councils and their contractors,” said Dr Martin