Statement in response to Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation inquiry
The extent and brutality of the abuse detailed in this report is appalling. I felt sick and shocked to read about the extreme and severe violence inflicted on some abuse victims.
Rotherham Council rightly commissioned this report to fully understand what went wrong, give victims the chance to speak up and expose the wide-ranging failings. It lays bare very serious failures in the police, council and other agencies.
The report is clear that children were very badly let down in Rotherham. The voices of vulnerable young girls went unheard by the people who should have been there for them but weren’t.
The council has rightly apologised without reservation and accepted all the report’s recommendations. The Leader Roger Stone has also rightly taken full responsibility for the council’s failings in resigning.
Now each and every one of the report’s 15 recommendations must be implemented immediately and fully, and both the council and police must demonstrate publicly this has been done.
This will be an important task for the new council leader, as well as making any other changes needed in light of this report, and they will have my full support in doing so.
While nothing can excuse or make good the failings in previous years, Alexis Jay’s report does say that children’s services have improved significantly and that the council and police have made child sexual exploitation a priority.
Sadly, the evil of child sexual abuse can never be entirely stopped and, like every other area in the country, in Rotherham we are still dealing with sex abuse cases but every parent must be confident that the council, police and other agencies are doing all they can to keep children safe.
Victims of sexual exploitation of any kind should feel encouraged and supported to report the abuse they are suffering, and know it will be dealt with seriously.
The police must carry out renewed investigations to bring to justice those who commit this evil crime, or who have abused or inflicted violence in the past.
The failures laid bare by this report must never happen again, in Rotherham or anywhere else.