'Vetting rules for school bus drivers must be consistent'

October 24, 2011 3:59 PM
Originally published by Peter Black and South Wales West Liberal Democrats

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Assembly Government to ensure that all bus drivers are officially vetted before they are allowed to operate school bus services.

It has recently been revealed that Arriva is being excused from rules which require local bus companies to provide a Criminal Records Bureau report on drivers of school buses.

The company, which is the biggest public transport operator in Wales, has not been forced to vet drivers on a number of routes in North and Mid Wales carrying pupils and students. Most Welsh companies have been ordered to provide a Criminal Records Bureau report on each driver, but Arriva have been exempt from these checks, according to Anglesey Council, due to the widespread nature of Arriva's business.

Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Local Government Minister, commented:

"The Assembly Government needs to be looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is imperative that all companies have their drivers CRB checked if they are to be operating a bus service for school children.

"There is Welsh Assembly guidance on this important issue, but this guidance is clearly not being followed. It is completely unacceptable that Arriva are being excused from conducting these CRB checks. I will be writing to the Minister as we need to know what he will be doing about this; we also need to know how widespread this problem actually is."

Aled Roberts, Assembly Member for North Wales, said:

"There can not be one rule for a bus company and then another rule for all the others. I understand that Arriva are operating an across country service, but local authorities need to collaborate to agree consistent standards and also to share and maintain a database of approved staff.

"Currently a number of bus drivers in North Wales have not had the relevant background checks, which means the safeguard guidelines are not being adhered to. CRB checks are vital as there is a need to prevent unsuitable people from working on a daily basis with children."

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