Home Affairs Committee – Second Report Child sexual exploitation – Rotherham & Rochdale

Response from Martinn Kimber, soon (hopefully) No mention of our Police & Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright , as yet 

The report together with the Proceedings of the Committee.

The published report was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 5 June 2013.

 ROTHERHAM

38. During the inquiry we have taken evidence on the response of local authorities to child sexual exploitation with a focus on children’s social care in Rochdale and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough councils. There have been high profile trials in both areas — Operation Central in Rotherham, in which five men were convicted of offences relating to localised grooming and child sexual exploitation in 2010, and Operation Span in Rochdale, in which nine men were convicted of offences relating to localised grooming and child sexual exploitation in 2012. 

39. Emma Jackson, a victim of localised grooming in Rotherham,[78] was scathing about her involvement with Rotherham Council during the period she was subject to child sexual exploitation. Having been approached by her parents for help, both she and her father are adamant that they were not in the least bit supportive. Emma described one conversation with her social worker:

 My social worker just seemed not to even be on this planet. It was like she did not have an opinion at all on anything. In fact, she gave one bit of advice, and that was that these men had said I owed them £500 for alcohol and drugs and they would have to come and kidnap me and take me away for a few days so I could pay my debt off. The social worker advised my parents to meet the men and pay them £500.[

79

She told us that, several months later, social services closed her case as she came from a supportive family.[80]

40. When we took evidence from Rotherham Council, they did not accept that there had been serious failings in the Council’s response in the past, although they were at pains to highlight the improvement on work which they had done on child sexual exploitation. Joyce Thacker, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services told us

 I do not think I would fully accept that we have failed dismally to deal with the issue. I think there are some historical issues here that we have managed over time to have an improved service.

81

Martin Kimber, the Council’s Chief Executive, told us that the Council had recently adopted multi-agency working, to improve intelligence and the responses to sexual exploitation; to assist with early identification; to assist with issues of making sure we can protect victims effectively, and to create the right conditions to allow proper disclosure and evidence-gathering.[82]

41. Mr Kimber said that Ofsted had recently commended the improvements made in Rotherham Council’s response to child sexual exploitation.[83] Ms Thacker emphasised that her priority was prevention of child sexual exploitation,[84] however according to Emma Jackson the response of the Council is still lacking and child sexual exploitation is still occurring in Rotherham.[85] Emma Jackson’s father, who had previously been a lay member on the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, disputed a number of points put forward by Mr Kimber and told us that although a child sexual exploitation sub-group had been set up, it had not met for nine months.[86] In fact, Mr Jackson was so disheartened by the lack of work being done on child sexual exploitation that he had approached the Mayor to complain about the lack of action being taken.[87]

42. We were also concerned that Ms Thacker, who has many years’ experience of working to tackle child sexual exploitation in a number of areas, told us that in her opinion “prosecution is the icing on the cake.”[88] Whilst we agree that prevention is the key to tackling sexual exploitation, the view that because convictions are difficult to achieve, they should not be a focus of child protection work is unhelpful. As Steve Garner of Rochdale Council told us, the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the case in 2009 “made Children’s Social Care and other colleagues think that some of these people they believed to be perpetrators had become untouchable.”[89] The fact that senior Council officers see the prosecution of child-sex offenders as being of secondary importance might, in part, explain why so few prosecutions have taken place in Rotherham.

 

Full report at 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/68/6802.htm

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