TAXI drivers who fail to complete new training in spotting child sexual exploitation will have their licences suspended, it has been announced.

At a licensing board meeting on Tuesday (AUG 2), councillors agreed to include the stipulation in the 'blue book' of cabbie regulations, and to send out further letters to some 50 drivers who failed to attend the first wave of courses earlier this year.

Introducing the motion, chairman Andrew Morgan said: "Board members will all be aware of the reason for doing this, it largely follows the events in Rotherham where the taxi trade became particularly associated with the exploitation of vulnerable children."

The board heard that 840 town cabbies had successfully completed the course and exam provided by the council's department for children and young people between January and March.

Some of the 50 who have not done so are thought to have left the taxi trade, although their licences are still in effect, while others are thought to have changed address without informing the local authority.

If they fail to attend the course on one of a further pair of dates to be determined, they will be called before the board for a suspension hearing.

"It really gladdens me that we are taking a very firm line on this," said Cllr Chris Wakefield, who chairs the children's services scrutiny panel.

"The safety and security of our young people in Bournemouth is paramount for us as councillors."

The move has been praised by the NSPCC.

Sharon Copsey, the charity's south west head of service, said: "There is no fixed model of trafficking, and vulnerable children can be targeted by abusive adults around them.

"Traffickers can be parents or extended family members, organised criminal gangs or individuals – men or women.

"We welcome this move by Bournemouth council to help taxi drivers recognise the signs of abuse and how they can report it, and hopefully more councils will follow suit."

Contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or young people can call ChildLine on 0800 1111.