We reported yesterday on the shocking revelations that were published into child sex abuse in Rotherham. Since the report came out, a number of further details have been disclosed into what has been described as ‘appalling sexual exploitation’ of up to 1400 children in the town.
Following the report into the child abuse scandal Rotherham Borough Council leader, Roger Stone, has tendered his resignation; overtly acknowledging a failure on the Council’s behalf to protect the welfare of the victims involved. Stone stated that he believed that it was fair and just that he as the head of council should ‘take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly’, a further admission of the Council’s negligence.
However, whilst the conduct of Rotherham Council faces close scrutiny, it is importance to also recognise the complicity of the police in failing to uncover the extent of child exploitation sooner. Reports suggest that three previous enquiries into cases of sexual exploitation had been raised, which poses the question as to why it is now years after the first enquiry was made that the full extent of abuse has only now been realised. Accusations of police cover ups into past reports have also surfaced; highlighting further inefficiencies inherent within the local authorities. This has fuelled further aspects of public concern provoking a loss of confidence in the local authority’s ability to adequately fulfil their duty of care.
It appears that the key issue that has arisen from the case is the failure of the public bodies to protect the vulnerable, and the criminalisation of those victims of abuse who came forward previously. Although we see some acceptance of responsibility from the actions of Roger Stone, calls have also been made for those in similar positions of authority, the police commissioner Sean Wright to also step down. As the person responsible for child protection during the period where cases of sexual exploitation were first brought to light, Wright has faced much criticism from both the public and local political leaders. Many have vocalised their concern as to why when both organisations were made aware of the horrific extent of the abuse, why no immediate action was taken to tackle and prevent the issue.
It is almost impossible to comprehend the horrific suffering endured by the victims, and it is crucial that the help and support they are entitled to is made available in order to help them begin to overcome such an ordeal.