UK & World News

  • 2 September 2014, 15:11

Rotherham Abuse Was 'Dereliction Of Duty'

Theresa May has said Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police are guilty of a "complete dereliction of duty" over the town's child sex exploitation scandal.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary said the report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham made "shocking reading," adding there was no excuse for victims' appeals for help being ignored.

She said: "We must ensure these perpetrators are brought to justice.

"We will not delay in taking action now to protect children who are at risk of sexual exploitation.

"All local authorities working with other public bodies, like the police, health and children's services, have a responsibility to keep our children safe."

Ms May said she would be chairing meetings with other ministers to look at what happened in Rotherham and consider what can be done to prevent the situation happening again.

Her comments come as South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner is expected to face a grilling from MPs after his refusal to resign over the Rotherham abuse scandal.

Shaun Wright was responsible for children's services at the town council for five of the 16 years when children were reported to have been targeted by gangs of older men.

The Home Affairs Select Committee will ask Mr Wright to appear on September 10th, along with Rotherham Council's chief executive Martin Kimber and director of children and young people's services Joyce Thacker.

Mr Wright has faced mounting pressure to step down following a damning report which criticised the failure of both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police to respond to the abuse of some 1,400 children between 1997 and 2013.

He quit the Labour Party last week after it threatened to suspend him over the scandal, but has so far refused to quit as police commissioner despite calls from a number of senior figures, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Earlier the Labour Party said Mr Wright and fellow former party member Maurice Kirk would now need approval from its National Executive Committee (NEC) before being able to rejoin the Party.

Labour also suspended four other party members who held senior positions of responsibility in Rotherham at the time of the alleged abuses.

Jahangir Akhtar and councillors Roger Stone, Gwendoline Ann Russell and Shaukat Ali will now be investigated by the party.

Labour said in a statement: "As Ed Miliband made clear last week large numbers of young people in Rotherham were systematically abused and then let down by those who should have protected them.

"It cannot be allowed to stand."

For its part, South Yorkshire Police has announced it will launch an independent investigation into its handling of the allegations.

Chief Constable David Crompton said: "The investigation will properly and independently examine the role of both the police and council during the period identified and address any wrongdoings or failings, which will allow the appropriate action to be taken."

Mr Stoneresigned as Rotherham Council leader last week after the publication of the Jay report.

He was the council cabinet member responsible for children's services between 2006 and 2010. He was also the elected official responsible for holding the police to account for their actions in South Yorkshire from 2012.

Mr Akhtarstepped down as deputy leader of Rotherham Council last year after it was reported he knew about a relationship between a relative and an under-age girl in care.

He denied the allegations and was later cleared by police of any blame.

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