There has and continues to be massive failures reportedly “on an industrial scale” in government, national and local, which amounts to gross dereliction of duty. This has been shown in various areas of services including Defence, NHS and the Police.
Today MPs and others have reacted angrily to the news that the official inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War will not report until after the general election – 12 years down the line and 3 years since the end of the inquiry. The inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot says he can see “no realistic prospect” of publication before the 7 May election. Here I find myself agreeing with both Nick Clegg and even Ian Duncan Smith in their views that this delay is “incomprehensible” and “disappointing” respectively, though my choice of words are rather stronger than that.
We in Rotherham know only too well the results of delays, sidelining, brushing under the carpet, turning a blind eye or whatever cliche we choose to describe what is after all, incompetence and dereliction of duty by so many. The Jay Report, which showed that more than 1,400 children were the victims of abuse between 1997 and 2013, has now been released for almost 6 months. The report criticises failures in the council leadership and says South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issues. The failures to protect children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006, which the council and police were both aware of.
Then we had Ofsted stating that children are at risk of sexual exploitation because of failings by local councils across the UK and yesterday, Ofsted social care director Debbie Jones gave only a guarded apology to MPs , saying hers was one of many organisations that “had made mistakes”.
The National Crime Agency has begun a two stage investigation – Operation Stovewood – in which South Yorkshire Police have said that they will “co-operate fully”(why they thought anyone would expect otherwise is beyond me) Now we await the report from Louise Casey, head of the government’s Troubled Families Unit after she was asked to conduct an independent inspection of Rotherhams Children’s Services. She has also been detailed to look at wider issues for local government, including coordination between government agencies. For this inspection to be extended perhaps shows that there are more serious failings in the council than was originally thought.
In English law, if a claimant establishes that they were owed a duty of care and that there has been a breach of that duty because conduct fell short of the standard expected under the circumstances, then a Dereliction of Duty has occurred.
It seems to me that our government offices and local authority have shown Dereliction of Duty to their people for many, many years. It’s about time some disciplinary actions and prosecutions come into effect to those culpable as we can’t allow impunity in public office to go unchallenged any longer.