THE mother and brother of Sian O'Callaghan welcomed the progress made by a new bill to overhaul taxi and private hire vehicles.

If the new law is passed, authorities in charge of licensing these vehicles would have to share information about any issues that come up which would then be considered when granting new licenses.

It is hoped this would prevent unsuitable people from becoming drivers for taxis or private hire vehicles. Christopher Halliwell worked as a taxi driver when he killed Sian O'Callaghan and Becky Godden-Edwards.

Sian's mother Elaine Pickford and brother Liam O'Callaghan as well as Justin Tomlinson MP, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Robert Buckland MP, to introduce national minimum standards for taxi and private hire vehicle licensing.

Elaine Pickford and Liam said: "This legislation is a cause we are all very proud of as it will help safeguard society, protect good honest taxi drivers and improve the confidence of individuals who use taxi services on a regular basis across the whole of the UK.

"The work of all involved, with special thanks to Saskia from the SLT, Justin Tomlinson, Robert Buckland, Justin;'s office manager Katie, Peter Gibson, the tireless campaigning of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the full support of all MPs is a testament to Sian and a lasting tribute.

"Sian, although no longer with us, will now extend her presence by helping to protect others."

The Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (safeguarding and road safety) Bill has been put forward by Darlington MP Peter Gibson after he was one of 20 MPs drawn in a ballot to introduce a piece of legislation to be considered by Parliament.

Licensing authorities will be expected to contribute to a central database when the authority has suspended, revoked, refused to grant, or refused to renew a taxi or PHV driver’s licence because of certain safeguarding or road safety concerns.

Licensing authorities will be required to use information held on the database when considering whether to issue or renew licenses.

This follows a number of high-profile cases involving taxi drivers, including rapist John Worboys, a number of taxi drivers across the country involved in grooming gangs and child exploitation, and Swindon taxi driver Christopher Halliwell.

Both Swindon MPs have supported and met with Elaine, Liam and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust a number of times. In 2018 Justin hosted an event in Parliament with the trust to highlight the issue of taxi driver licensing, and advocate for a change in the law.

Justin Tomlinson MP said: “This is a really positive step forward in strengthening public safety. While the vast majority of taxi drivers are decent and law abiding, it is important that the minority who aren’t are identified and prevented from doing harm.

"The bill is testament to the work of campaigners like Elaine and Liam, who have helped secure a vital change to the law.”