Monday, 17 November 2014
Organised child sex abuse 'widespread in England', MPs say
Organised child sex abuse is widespread in England, a report by MPs on the Rotherham exploitation scandal says.
A review of child protection systems across the country has been called for by the Commons' Communities and Local Government Committee.
Its report also said Rotherham Council and Ofsted had "failed" the victims targeted in the town.
It suggested the council's protection policies were "divorced from reality", enabling the abuse to continue.
MPs said, however, the town was "not an outlier" for abuse and all councils needed to review child protection policies.'More rigorous inspection'
Their inquiry was prompted by a report by Professor Alexis Jay, which revealed up to 1,400 children were estimated to have been victims of abuse in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.
Ofsted, which carried out a series of inspections during the period, said it had introduced a "more rigorous inspection framework".
In the immediate wake of the report, published on 26 August, the council's then leader Roger Stone stood down.
South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who was in charge of children's services in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, resisted calls to quit until he too resigned on 16 September.
Joyce Thacker, head of children's services when the report was published, then stood down on 19 September.'Shameful inability'
The MPs' report investigates the lessons for local government that have been recommended in the wake of Prof Jay's investigation.
Labour MP Clive Betts, chairman of the committee, said Ofsted would be called before the MPs to answer "serious questions" about its inspections.
"Repeated Ofsted inspections in Rotherham failed to lift the lid on the council's shameful inability to tackle child sexual exploitation," said Mr Betts.
The MPs also criticised the town's councillors for their lack of effective scrutiny and challenging of council officers.
The report said the authority had many child protection policies but they were "divorced from reality".
The parliamentary committee called for an investigation into missing files at the council and said council officials "should be held accountable for their actions."
"Arrangements should be put in place to bring to account not just council officers still in post but those who have moved on from an authority before serious questions about their performance emerge, " said Mr Betts.
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