John responds to reports about Rotherham child abuse

John has reacted to the Communities and Local Government select committee report on Rotherham child abuse and the Ofsted report on Rotherham children’s services.

Communities and Local Government select committee report on Rotherham child abuse

The Communities and Local government Select Committee published a report yesterday (18 November) on the lessons for local government in light of the failure of Rotherham council to protect children in the borough from sexual abuse.

John said: “This is a useful and timely report, which should be required reading for councils across the country.

“For us in Rotherham, it raises further deep concerns about the effectiveness of council procedures designed to protect children. These concerns must be acted upon by the new leadership of Rotherham council as part of their commitment to address the failings of the past and to rebuild confidence in the way the council protects children in our area.

“While it will continue to be the urgent task of South Yorkshire Police to bring the criminals who abused children in Rotherham to account, I know the council is determined not to stand still in the meantime. They must remain single-minded in their focus on improving support for children and their families and this report can help them to do that. It is encouraging in this respect that the report points to several areas where the council is now making good progress; there is much more to do.”

Ofsted report into Rotherham Children’s Services

Report is available here.

John said: “Ofsted have serious questions to answer about their failure to properly inspect children’s services in Rotherham over the last decade. They are a core part of the system of accountability which failed so badly in our area, as underlined yesterday in report from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. It is still not clear after this report why services Ofsted judged ‘adequate’ as recently as 2012 are only now ‘inadequate’.

“However, this fact does not diminish the extremely worrying findings of this latest inspection of services for vulnerable children in Rotherham. The inspection catalogues a range of failures of management, of joint-working with other organisations, and of basic procedure. Frontline staff are reported to be under extreme pressure from high caseloads, without the proper structures and processes in place to do their jobs effectively.

“It is encouraging that Ofsted found that important improvements had been made, and the further changes were underway, but the bottom line is that children in Rotherham are still being put at risk by poor services.

“The report shows the new council leader Paul Lakin was right to clear out the most senior council managers, as new leadership is clearly needed to meet the challenges this Ofsted report sets out.

“The main responsibility for responding to the failures outlined in this report must lie with the council’s senior leadership and with children’s services but in light of this report, I will also be writing to the Secretary of State for Education to ask her whether she will make available additional funding for Rotherham given the exceptional challenge the council is facing. I am determined that a lack of resources must not be a barrier to making the changes that must be made in Rotherham’s Children’s Services.”

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

The IPCC has announced it is to investigate the conduct of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers over their handling of reported child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.

John said: “I welcome the news that the IPCC is to investigate South Yorkshire police officers identified through the Jay report.

“More prosecutions of abusers are essential but too slow and small in number.

“I will continue to press the Chief Constable on securing prosecutions and beginning the inquiry into police and council staff’s handling of CSE and the failings raised by Jay.”