Children’s services in Rotherham have been found ‘inadequate’, following a new inspection by Ofsted.
The watchdog’s report, published today, says: “There are widespread or serious failures that result in children being harmed or at risk of harm.”
Ofsted inspected services in Rotherham a month after the publication of the report by Professor Alexis Jay, which suggested 1,400 children in the town had been abused by largely Pakistan-heritage men over a 16 year period while authorities turned a blind eye.
She said police and council chiefs failed act because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.
Ofsted’s findings on the standard of children’s services run by Rotherham Council were published this morning.
The report says: “The overall judgment is that children’s services are inadequate.
“In the delivery of services for looked-after children and care leavers these failures result in the welfare of these children not being safeguarded and promoted.
“Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.”
The report also judged the Local Safeguarding Children Board to be ‘inadequate’.
It says: “The arrangements in place to evaluate the effectiveness of what is done by the authority and board partners to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are inadequate.”
The publication of the Jay Report earlier this year, which detailed how children had been raped and trafficked in the town by organised gangs of men, provoked turmoil in the local authority.
Prof Jay said senior councillors and council officials must have known what was going on but did not act.
The new Ofsted report criticises in particular services aimed at protecting children in need of help, saying: “Serious and widespread failures in child protection work mean that children and young people are not adequately protected.”
It reveals Ofsted inspectors had referred 13 cases they had looked at back to the local authority because of ‘serious issues of concern’ over the way they were dealt with.
The report says police and social workers still did not work together properly.
“Strategy discussions, including those where children are believed to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, are not compliant with statutory guidance,” it says.
“This means that key information held by other agencies may not be taken into account, and potential risks to children may not be considered. There is ineffective working between social workers and police officers.”
Ofsted itself was criticised by MPs this week over failing to ’lift the lid’ on child sexual exploitation in the town.