Rotherham Council braced for report

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Another investigation into the child sex exploitation scandal in Rotherham is expected to make uncomfortable reading for councillors and local authority officials in the beleaguered town when its findings are published today.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles asked Louise Casey to inspect Rotherham Council following the publication of the damning Jay Report last year.

Professor Alexis Jay’s findings produced shockwaves when they revealed that more than 1,400 children had been subjected to rape, violence and trafficking by gangs of mainly Asian men in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.

Mr Pickles said at the time of his announcement that Ms Casey’s inspection would examine a range of issues including whether the council covers up information, whether whistleblowers are silenced and whether it ” was and continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness, affecting its decision-making on sensitive issues”.

Ms Casey, who is director-general for troubled families at the Communities Department, was also tasked with looking at all aspects of how the council liaises with other organisations, including the police.

The Jay Report, published in August last year, provoked a huge controversy and two investigations by Commons committees.

A number of high-profile figures resigned, including South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, who had been a councillor in the town and responsible for children’s services.

Other resignations included those of the council leader, Roger Stone, the chief executive, Martin Kimber, and its director of children’s services, Joyce Thaker.

The National Crime Agency has taken over the investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and is in the preliminary stage of its inquiry.

Last week, Rotherham’s Labour MP, Sarah Champion, said she now thinks the figures in the Jay Report may be an under-estimate.

Ms Champion, who was elected in a November 2012 by-election, told a Sky News investigation: “The Jay Report said 1,400, but I’m getting new victims coming to me on a weekly basis.

“So I would say it’s closer to a couple of thousand people who have been groomed or have been sexually exploited in this little town.”

The publication of Ms Casey’s report comes as new allegations have emerged about the involvement of councillors and police in the scandal.

The Times – which has led the investigation into the Rotherham scandal – said today that a corrupt police officer and two councillors have been accused of having sex with victims in the town.

The paper said complaints about two councillors are understood to have been sent to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and allegations about the police officer have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is conducting an ongoing investigation into some officers’ actions in Rotherham.

An IPCC spokesman said: “The IPCC’s independent investigation into the conduct of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers in relation to their handling of reported child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is ongoing.

“This is a large and complex investigation. Since we announced our investigation we have received 20 individual complaints.

“Work is ongoing to assess these complaints to determine whether they are new allegations or matters already under the remit of our investigation.

“We have also been liaising with the National Crime Agency in relation to their investigation examining criminal allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham to ensure nothing is done to prejudice any future potential criminal prosecutions and both investigations deal with the victims as sensitively as possible.”

The NCA said its investigation in Rotherham is at an intelligence-gathering stage.

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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