Rotherham tackling child sex issues

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Rotherham has now ‘got its act together’ in dealing with child sexual exploitation, according to a new independent review – but there is still work to be done.

The verdict comes from Steve Ashley, chair of the town’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, who, with an expert team, carried out a 10-week investigation last autumn.

It is the third time that services have been examined in the wake of what Rotherham Council admitted was a ‘systematic failure’ after five men were jailed for sexual offences against under-age girls.

The council is still facing legal action from women victims, while 23 investigations are under way by South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Ashley, a former police chief superintendent, said he believed Rotherham was now in a better position to tackle child sexual exploitation than most other local authorities.

He said: “I am satisfied that the progress to date is good and that there is a determination and passion at all levels to seek continuous improvement in this area.

“At the front line staff are committed and enthusiastic, while the level of passion, drive and determination shown at a senior level is palpable.”

Mr Ashley calls for a senior dedicated manager to be appointed to take charge of the child sex team, whose work should stay under review.

And he believes there should be better levels of communication between professionals and victims and potential victims, so the seriousness of the issue is clearly understood.