UK & World News

  • 27 August 2014, 20:29

Rotherham Abuse: Police Boss Refuses To Quit

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner is resisting growing calls to resign over the Rotherham child abuse scandal - claiming he was unaware of the scale of the problem.

Shaun Wright, who was responsible for children's services at the town council for five of the 16 years when at least 1,400 children were abused, is being urged to stand down, including by his own Labour Party.

Mr Wright told Sky News he was "completely astonished" at the extent of the abuse revealed in a damning report, which told of 11-year-olds being gang raped and children being forced to watch violent sex abuse while being threatened they would be next.

But Professor Alexis Jay, who headed the inquiry, cast doubt on claims people had been unaware of the problem, which had been set out "unambiguously" in seminars and reports.

She also told Sky News nearly everyone in positions of authority should have done more.

Home Secretary Theresa May also piled pressure on Mr Wright to stand down from his 85,000-a-year job, saying he "has real questions to answer".

Sky News Senior Political Correspondent Jon Craig said there was now so much pressure on Mr Wright to resign, "I'd be very surprised if he's still in his post by later on this evening."

Mr Wright was a Labour councillor for Rotherham until he was elected Police Commissioner in 2012, and was in charge of children's services from 2005 to 2010.

He told Sky News he was "completely astonished" at the abuse, and said he had been unaware of the scale of the problem.

He said: "I take my share of the responsibility. There was systemic failure. I only wish that I knew more at the time.

"If I knew then what I know now then clearly more could have been done.

"I do have regrets I wasn't more aware of the issue at the time."

He claimed information was not "escalated up" to the political level or senior managers.

But pointing to a number of seminars and reports detailing the abuse, Prof Jay told Sky News: "I would be surprised if anyone could say at the end of that, they didn't know."

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News: "The Labour party has said that the Police and Crime Commissioner should stand down, just as the leader of the council has done, because 1,400 children were abused and they were let down badly by the authorities."

Roger Stone, the leader of Rotherham Council, stepped down with immediate effect following the publication of the report.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, police district commander for Rotherham, said no officers had faced disciplinary action but added: "A number of individuals that were in the service then are no longer in the service."

Solicitor David Greenwood, who represents some of the victims, told Sky News they intend to take legal action against the authorities.

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