In response to widespread concern within the ADI community in reaction to the announcement last weekend of new sanctions for ADIs found to be engaged in sexually inappropriate relationship, (or found guilty of other serious safeguarding breaches), DIA has urged DVSA to address the lack of balance in their original press announcement and to reassure the industry that henceforth a more concerted effort will be made to further engage with the profession on this topic and support the development of more safeguarding knowledge and guidance for trainers.
DIA has today received the following statement in response from DVSA:
DVSA Head of Policy and Chief Driving Examiner Lesley Young said: "Following our recent announcement about driving instructor conduct, we’re aware that some members of the driver training sector have expressed concerns about the approach the ADI Registrar will take in dealing with the small minority of driving instructors whose actions bring the Register - and the driver training sector - into disrepute.
"DVSA treats seriously all complaints about driving instructor conduct. As a regulator of a public service, we have a duty to protect the public by taking action to remove from the Register those who fall short of required standards and we remain committed to doing so. The reality is that DVSA’s Counter-Fraud and Investigations team does have to investigate allegations of serious misconduct, and where they are proven, ADIs are removed from the Register. Pretending this doesn’t happen doesn’t help the victims, and doesn’t encourage them to speak out when it’s happened to them.
"We’re committed to supporting the vast majority of driving instructors who take pride in offering a high standard of tuition, giving excellent customer service and most importantly, providing a safe environment for pupils to learn in. These road safety professionals abide by the ADI Code of Practice and take seriously their position of trust in training their pupils to stay safe on Britain’s roads.
"Over the last few months we’ve been listening to industry representatives and discussing with them how we can help improve safeguarding guidance within the driver training sector. Driving instructors have an important role in safeguarding, as they’re also in a position to help keep their pupils safe from harm, by helping to spot, report and stop safeguarding issues occurring - particularly amongst young and vulnerable people. This dialogue will continue as we work with the driver training sector to look at how best we can help to inform, educate and advise instructors about safeguarding and raise awareness of appropriate training available to support them."
Carly Brookfield, DIA Chief Executive commented;
"We have been in dialogue with the agency for the most part of this week, discussing the serious concerns that we and the ADIs we represent have had about the handling of the communication of this announcement - and importantly how we now need to move on from this point to provide better advice, guidance and training on the subject of safeguarding in the sector. I'm pleased to see the agency at least acknowledge those concerns, the extent of the issue and the need for further collaborative work between the agency and the industry to resolve the knowledge gaps in this area, and work to mitigate safeguarding risks in order to protect both pupils and trainers. DVSA has acknowledged to DIA that a better balance in the communications sent over the weekend (i.e. a bigger focus on the positive role ADIs can play in safeguarding their pupils) could have been achieved and this is acknowledged in the statement released today at DIA's request. Furthermore the regulator has reassured me they will work closely with us to both help ADIs better fulfil their safeguarding roles, but also to promote more positive stories in the future as to how the industry as a whole is stepping up on safeguarding.
"I share my member's views that this week has been a very frustrating and uncomfortable one for them as a profession and we as an organisation are sorry that they have had to experience that - it was not by DIA's design this announcement was made in this manner and were very unhappy we were prevented from positively influencing this communication by a lack of reasonable notice on the press release and therefore a lack of time to speak to media outlets to offer a more balanced view. DVSA have acknowledged those particular issues and have committed to working in a more timely manner with us on such communications in future. We will continue to discuss this important issue with the industry and the DVSA, as we have been for several months now with DIA being the first organisation in the sector to not only highlight the very real need for advice, guidance and training but also being only ADI organisation to proactively work to fill the gaps in knowledge and good practice in safeguarding. Trainers seeking advice on specific safeguarding issues, or seeking guidance in general on their roles and responsibilities with regard to safeguarding, can contact us at any time for free, impartial and confidential advice."