CRIMINALS who force vulnerable children to use taxis to traffic drugs around the town are enabled in their exploitation of youngsters by cabbies who complete the journey first before alerting the police.

“Protocol” among some taxi firms whose drivers facilitate ‘drug and child trafficking’ in High Wycombe is that a journey should be completed first before reporting the crime to the authorities.

The shocking revelation was made by Conservative Cllr Graham Peart, during a Communities and Localism Select Committee, on Thursday, September 24.

READ MORE: Problem footpath ‘plagued by drugs and prostitution’ will remain sealed

Members convened to discuss the alignment of policies and procedures of taxi and private hire licensing under the new unitary council.

When members turned to the issue of safeguarding for the public and taxi drivers and operators alike, Cllr Peart demanded answers on how the council intended to tackle the “hideous practice”.

He stressed, however, that most taxi companies do not fail in reporting serious crime.

“In the past, and still currently, taxi companies are being used to assist those involved in illegal activities – particularly the delivery of drugs and sometimes child trafficking.

“Certainly in Wycombe, it’ll be a teenager or sometimes two will be collected, they don’t know where they are being taken, they’re taken first of all to collect the drugs and then to a series of addresses to deliver them, collect the money and then to drop that off.

“Most companies do report [it] and are brilliant but there is always one or two that don’t. But the protocol has been that the taxi driver should continue the run and not interrupt it, report back to their base and then the company should inform the police who can pick it up because they have the addresses.

“If all taxi drivers and companies reported to the police it would close this off. But I understand it is still happening.

“What encouragement can you give to taxi companies to follow the protocol and stop this hideous practice?”

Cllr Muhammad Abdullah Hashmi also highlighted the safety of drivers.

READ MORE: Council forked out £10k on market rescue plan – which is ‘beyond help anyway’

Transition head of licensing, cemeteries and crematoria, Lindsey Vallis, said mandatory training for drivers included knowledge about drug trafficking across “county lines” and reporting such instances to protect “vulnerable children and adults”.

“It’s absolutely what we’re here to try and prevent,” she added. “We work really closely with the police and any intelligence we receive we will actively follow up, taking robust action against companies and drivers where there is fault.

“If we receive information directly from a member of the public, we will work with the police to undertake joint enforcement activities where appropriate.”

Licensing team leader for Wycombe, Chiltern and the South Buckinghamshire area, Caroline Steven, added: “I work with the police sergeant in Wycombe responsible for dealing with drug operations in our area.

“We do share information on a regular basis, so we know of any relevant concerns in that respect.

“It’s quite a difficult situation to deal with sometimes because the children involved are not likely to make reports – but any companies or drivers found not to be following training given will certainly be dealt with robustly.”

She added the personal details of any driver that reports a crime will be protected.

Principal licensing officer for the Aylesbury area, Simon Gallacher, said taxi drivers are given ‘specific reporting details’ in the form of a “calling card” so they can directly inform the relevant authorities.

Thames Valley Police has been approached for comment.