Comment on Rotherham child abuse

Some people have asked me bluntly as a local MP, ‘What did you know about all this?’

This is what I am telling constituents who understandably ask this question:

As I said on BBC Look North last week, I simply had no idea about the scale and seriousness of this exploitation. Certainly the Council didn’t brief us as MPs over the years – as the Jay report tells us: the problem was downplayed, and there was a lack of communication and action from senior officers. Nor did the Police, who in the early years Jay says, “gave no priority to CSE, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime”.

Beyond this, I and my small office in Wath deal with almost 3000 individual cases and issues each year but we have not had a single case of child sexual exploitation reported to us in the constituency since 1997.

So I did not find out about these historic child sexual abuse cases until the prosecutions started, the press were reporting and both the Council and Police finally began to brief us as MPs less than two years ago; then we could start challenging the action being taken. But the scale and brutality of the exploitation, and the very grave past failings of the Police and Council, set out in the Jay report were deeply shocking and disturbing.

Now that we know, as a Rotherham MP I am determined to help ensure that the victims are put first, many more perpetrators are convicted for their crimes and the fullest possible action is taken on every one of Jay’s recommendations.