A report by the Director of Children’s services is attached.
Prior to this hearing, it was agreed by all Members of the Panel, to hear this item in a closed session and the Panel therefore resolved that in accordance with Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of this item of business since it involved the likely disclosure of information relating to an individual.
The Applicant attended the meeting and the Chair outlined the procedure to follow and the Applicant accepted the report as presented.
A report was presented on behalf of the Director of Children, Young People and Culture in relation to the suitability of an individual Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driver, asking the Panel to consider their suitability to work on a home to school contract.
The report explained that passengers using the Home to School Transport Service have a range of additional needs including learning, behavioural, sensory, hearing, visual, autistic disorder or physical disabilities and escorts are allocated to accompany pupils on their journey to and from school where required.
A report was considered on 6 October 2014 in relation to the Licensing and Safety Panel undertaking a review of PSV drivers working on transport contracts when a caution or conviction is disclosed on their enhanced DBS certificate. Members resolved that the Panel would become the single reviewing body for such applications and the relevant delegation was amended, so as to enable it to determine if such applicants were ‘fit and proper’.
In relation to the current driver, an application was made to the Home to School Transport Service and as part of the process a DBS check for an enhanced DBS on 18 April 2018 was made, which showed a conviction dated 5 October 2017 by Greater Manchester Police for an offence of sending by communication network offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message or matter under the communications Act 2003. The Applicant was sentenced to a community order, costs of £650, unpaid work requirement and a victim surcharge of £85.
The Applicant then addressed the Panel and explained that a friend of his had written on the wall of his Facebook page to which he had responded, inappropriately. The conversation then continued with his friend in a private conversation. Someone, the Applicant is not aware of whom, reported him for his inappropriate comment, which was of a homosexual nature and also attended Court anonymously to give evidence.
The Applicant explained that he had not meant to cause any offence and had since deleted Facebook. He has a job with a Home to School Transport Contract provider who require drivers to work in both Bury and Bolton. He wanted to be a mini bus driver and currently lived at home with his family.
The Applicant explained that he had received quite a severe penalty in Court and understood the error of his ways and would never post or state any inappropriate language that could be construed as a hate crime in the future.
The Panel carefully considered the report and the oral representations by the Applicant and taking into account the Council’s Conviction Policy and Guidelines and resolved, unanimously, that the Applicant was suitable to work as a PSV driver on the Home to School Transport contract and therefore the application was allowed.
The Licensing and Safety Panel noted that any form of hate crime was a serious offence. However, the Applicant had received a fitting sentence and realised the seriousness of the matter. The Applicant was very remorseful for his actions and the Panel therefore agreed unanimously that the driver was a suitable person.