THE family of Sian O'Callaghan have welcomed a new law which requires stricter background checks for drivers seeking taxi licences.

This comes after years of campaigning by the family who, with the help of Swindon MPs, urged the government to increase safety measures for taxi passengers.

Sian's mum Elaine Pickford and brother Liam O'Callaghan were devastated when taxi driver Christopher Halliwell picked up their loved one after a night out and murdered her in 2011.

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They hope the new Taxi & Private Hire Vehicles Safeguarding Legislation will prevent other dangerous criminals and potential killers gaining taxi driver licences.

In a statement, Elaine and Liam said: “As a family the raw pain of losing someone so special in an horrendous way is so difficult.

"However, we take pride in the fact that Sian's name and legacy is now intertwined with this law set out to improve safety, better protecting passengers and hardworking law abiding drivers themselves.

"This law, by way of sharing information across local authorities and improving the safety checks, will go some way to ensuring drivers with criminal motive are not able to manipulate the system to gain licenses.

"Thank you.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson launched the safety campaign in Parliament with Elaine in 2018, then South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland helped created the legislation with fellow MP Peter Gibson while Coun Kate Tomlinson worked with the family on women's safety and The Suzy Lamplugh Trust provided other support.

They were joined by other campaigners from across the country, including Sami Woodhouse, a victim of the Rotherham Abuse scandal where many of the abusers drove taxis to pick up young victims.

The family added: "We would like to personally thank Peter Gibson MP for taking the Bill through parliament. Saskia Garner from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for her tireless campaigning alongside Kate Tomlinson for women’s safety, and Robert Buckland MP and Justin Tomlinson MP for listening, supporting and driving this forward over the last four years."

The Swindon MPs and campaigners managed to get enough support for the legislation to finally make its way through Parliament, which was confirmed last week, when the new bill received Royal Assent so that it could become law.

It will make it mandatory for licensing authorities to access vital background information about drivers seeking a licence in their areas. This will support the work of councils to ensure anyone using a taxi or private hire vehicle is kept safe.

Mr Tomlinson and Mr Buckland said: “Thanks to Elaine and Liam, Sian’s legacy is now helping to keep millions of people in our country safer.

"They have used their pain as a family to harness support for a new law which we are pleased to have supported and helped push through Parliament.

"Their endless determination has been so admirable given the tragic events they have had to endure, and we look forward to working with them on more campaigns in the future.”