TWO licensing officers have been suspended by South Ribble Council after allegations that two children were sexually exploited.

It follows an independent report stating that claims a five-year-old and a 16-year-old were sexually exploited by taxi drivers were not dealt with properly.

In a statement, South Ribble Borough Council said: 'We are currently investigating a number of issues within the licensing section.

'The council takes matters of public safety extremely seriously and we are currently undertaking a full review of all taxi licences, including drivers and vehicles.

'Where issues have been highlighted, these have been rectified without incident.

'Two licensing officers are currently suspended subject to ongoing disciplinary proceedings.

'We continue to operate a full licensing service in the meantime.

'An independent investigation is ongoing and will be published in due course.'

It is understood an independent report by a legal firm leaked to the BBC found that no background checks had been undertaken on 40 drivers in the borough.

The review stated there was a clear risk the council was unable to safeguard children.

The allegations centred on two taxi drivers.

In one case it was alleged that a taxi driver had made inappropriate sexual remarks to a vulnerable 16-year-old girl who he transported as part of a contract for Lancashire County Council.

The second case was a driver who was arrested for sexually abusing a five-year-old girl.

No prosecution was brought because of difficulties with her giving evidence.

But the report said police believed he continued to pose a safeguarding risk.