ANYONE charged with exploitation, slavery or financial abuse will be banned from becoming a taxi driver as tougher criminal background checks were agreed by county chiefs.

Previous guidelines meant that criminals who had committed sexual offences or drugs crimes could still get a licence several years after their conviction.

However new tougher guidelines mean that anyone who has committed a sexual offence will never be able to gain a licence.

Anyone on the Sexual Offenders register will also be banned from taxi driving.

People with drugs convictions, having a weapon or discrimination will be barred from getting a taxi licence for seven years, up from previous guidelines of a three year wait.

Tom Ince of the Wiltshire Council licensing department said: “These are a lot more robust in terms of guidelines on giving licences to drivers with a certain type of conviction or allegation.

“I think it will give us a lot more power over enforcement. We have had problems whereby trying to enforce but current don’t given enough support to do it.”

The new fit and proper guidelines were agreed by Wiltshire Council’s licensing committee this morning.

Changes will be made to bring Wiltshire’s policy in line with national guidelines published following a consultation into Hackney carriage licences at the start of the year.

The local authority is also set to require all new drivers to sign up to a system that means an additional DBS background check can be carried out on them at any time.

At the moment all drivers must update their DBs every three years.

Wiltshire Council also carried out research into the possibility of making CCTV mandatory in all taxis.

However it is unlikely that this will now be implemented because other local authorities had piloted schemes but found it hard to justify the requirement in court.

There are low numbers of serious allegations in Wiltshire compared to the estimated 1000 taxi drivers, and the licensing committee heard there was not a requirment for CCTV to be made mandatory for all drivers.