AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in December 2017 to reflect changes to the laws around booster seats and babies who now need to stay in rear facing seats until 15 months. (See Seat Belts/Restraints).
1. Transport Arrangements - General
Also see Section 2, Transporting Children.
Where two or more drivers take part, they must share the driving equally.
The following must be taken into account:
- Passenger safety;
- Competence of the driver;
- Awareness of driver's hours;
- Traffic conditions;
- Contingency funds and arrangements in case of breakdown/emergency;
- Journey time and distance;
- Stopping off points for long journeys and toilet breaks - 20 minutes every 2 hours;
- Unless otherwise agreed by the manager, children and non-driving staff/carers may not sit in the front of vehicles;
- Unless otherwise agreed by the manager, the driver must not be responsible for the supervision of the children in the vehicle;
- Appropriate seat belts or restraints must be used and fastened. (see 'Seat Belts/Restraints' below);
- The transport must have a first aid kit;
- A mobile telephone should be taken/carried by the Group Leader and each member of staff likely to be separated from the Group Leader. If mobile 'phones are not carried suitable arrangements should be made to enable communication between staff undertaking the activity;
- Under the Children and Families Act 2014 smoking is restricted when there is a child (person under 18 yrs) in the vehicle.
A First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher must always be carried on the vehicle. Where outdoor activities are planned, suitable First Aid Kits should be carried away from the vehicle.
Before setting out the Group Leader must ensure that suitable mechanical checks are undertaken in relation to the vehicle.
Only seat belts/restraints fitted by the manufacturer of the vehicle may be used or those supplied by the authority.
Where such equipment is provided for staff/carers, an inventory must be kept by the manager of the purchase/maintenance dates. Annual inspections must be undertaken, by a suitably qualified person.
2. Transporting Children
Unless otherwise agreed by the manager, a member of staff/carer must accompany children in the rear of the vehicle. Where children are allowed to sit in the front of vehicle, they must be over the age of 12.
Children may not hold or be responsible for vehicle keys and may not steer cars or use petrol pumps.
All vehicle occupants must wear suitable seat belts or restraints at all times when in vehicles.
Children must not tamper with or use any controls except, at the discretion of the driver, the radio/stereo.
If it is assessed that a child may be distressed whilst in the vehicle or a child becomes distressed to the extent that the safety of the vehicle or occupants may be compromised, the vehicle must be stopped; preferably in a lay-by or suitable stopping place. However, the vehicle may have to be stopped at the side of the road or on the hard shoulder of a motorway. In these circumstances, the hazard warning lights should be activated, the occupants should get out of the vehicle and stand well away from the road, and the emergency services must be summoned.
If the safety of the occupants is compromised, with the risk of Injury or Damage to Property, Physical Intervention may be used or the Police should be called to assist.
If the situation demands that a child with a history of violence must be transported, the Group Leader must ensure the following:
- The child must sit in the rear of the vehicle, supervised by a minimum of two staff/carers;
- Staff/carers must be instructed to hold or, if there is a risk to life or limb, Restrain the child;
- The child must not sit behind, or be able to distract the driver;
- The Group Leader must be satisfied that no items, which could be used as weapons, are available to the child. These could include tools, aerosols, pens etc;
- Care should be taken when getting in and out of vehicles. This is the time when holds are weakened;
- Some thought should be given to action on arrival at destination - will more staff be needed? Is a room available? Is it easy to get the car close to the destination, and is it possible to avoid other children becoming involved?
- If the potential risks cannot be managed safely, the activity must not go ahead; or must cease and, if necessary, the Police be called to assist.
3. Use of Taxis and Escorting Children
This section should be read in conjunction with Guidance for Taxi/Transport Requests Procedure.
In Knowsley all taxi companies/drivers are licensed through the Public Carriage Office (PCO). The PCO are currently on a three stage process in the licensing of this service, they have just completed stage 1 (after 3 years) and moved to stage two. Stage one was to register the companies, stage two is registering the drivers and stage 3 will be to register the vehicles.
All companies should now be registered and this needs to be checked through PCO website when purchasing transport services. The Drivers in turn are issued with a temporary license whilst they are in the process of being registered. PLEASE NOTE THAT WHILST HOLDING A TEMPORARY LICENSE A DRIVER WILL NOT HAVE BEEN CLEARED THROUGH THE DISCLOSURE AND BARRING SERVICE (DBS).
Once a driver has received a full license they would have been cleared by the PCO with an enhanced disclosure. The PCO will issue a license to a person convicted of certain crimes, including sex and drink/driving if the conviction was not a recent one.
Within Knowsley the Education department contracts with local taxi firms and applies within those contracts its own rules with regard to what is acceptable in terms of criminal history. Knowsley's contract with taxi companies allows the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to be ignored and any conviction at all for ABH, GBH, Drug related and Sex crimes will prohibit their use for the transportation of children.
The drivers/company's insurance must be viewed to ensure they are covered for "Hire & Reward" and for £5m public liability. If the public liability is not listed on the insurance certificate, you need to seek independent verification from their broker.
The Drivers are also required to have medical checks prior to the issue of their license, this should be repeated on a 3 yearly basis.
Knowsley operates an age policy with regard to drivers. This is a maximum age of 70 years and a minimum age of 20 years. However this is not applicable outside Knowsley contracts and it is worth asking about drivers' ages and the regularity of their medical checks.
There is a clause in licensing regulations which allows any taxi company with a 7 day (or more) contract to be exempt from the public carriage licensing but this shouldn't normally apply to the work we do and would recommend that anyone who quoted this at us should not be used.
There are no special regulations in relation to the physically disabled yet. Knowsley contracted drivers and escorts are not allowed to administer medication or to carry medication but it is worth checking with other companies what their policies are. It is generally a good idea to ask a company what their instructions are to drivers with regard to medical emergencies, seizures and/or a child "kicking off" during transportation.
All vehicles/drivers are required to carry a communication system whether this be a mobile phone or CB radio. All vehicles and drivers should carry a license and photo ID which carries their license number.
1. Escorts are always required in the following circumstances:
- Any child being transported to a 'special school' (physical or learning disabilities);
- Any child of primary school age;
- Any female child irrespective of age;
- Any male secondary school child in certain circumstances, e.g. where there may be more than one child in the vehicle with 'special needs' (in its broadest interpretation). These need to be assessed on an individual basis.
2. ALL Escorts MUST be DBS checked
The child's social worker is responsible for ensuring compliance with these regulations when sourcing transport services.