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Council steps up safeguarding awareness

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A council has stepped up awareness of its child safeguarding procedures among school transport contractors.

Wigan Council has written to all its school transport contractors in order to outline their responsibility to ensure they are fully aware of council safeguarding protocols.

Wigan Council proactively works to safeguard all children and prevent child sexual exploitation as a top priority.

The council has recently become aware that 10 drivers working for contractors on its school transport service had enhanced DBS checks – but did not have the children’s workforce check as part of that.

This is a failure to comply with the conditions of the council contract and the drivers have been immediately taken off the council’s transport service until they pass the full check with the council.

The drivers did have a council passenger assistant in attendance who has an appropriate enhanced DBS.

Mark Tilley, Wigan Council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said: “As a consequence of becoming aware of this we are writing to all contractors to remind them of their responsibilities for ensuring they follow all the council’s safeguarding procedures.

“I must make clear that there is no suggestion these drivers were a risk to children indeed they have the enhanced DBS checks but as a council we must make sure that all drivers working for our school transport service also have the children’s workforce check.

He added: “We recognise that private contractors have an important role to play in delivering our school transport service and we thank them for working with us in addressing this important issue.

“It’s important to note that the vast majority of drivers have a passenger assistant with them at all times who are fully DBS checked to ensure the children’s welfare is looked after and maintained.”

The council has also improved its own internal procedures to make sure that all enhanced DBS checks for drivers operating on school transport in the borough are processed by the council and not by another authority.

Mr Tilley said: “Safeguarding children is everybody’s responsibility and the council, its contractors and members of the public must all work together and remain vigilant to protect children from harm.

“We are re-doubling our efforts so that all drivers have the correct full checks in place and we need our private sector partners to support us with this very important issue.”

If anyone has any concerns about a safeguarding issue or suspect child sexual exploitation they should contact Greater Manchester Police on 999 in an emergency, 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Wigan Council’s social care duty team can be contacted on 01942 828300 or out of hours 01942 828777.

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