‘It must never happen again’ – that was the message from apologetic police and politicians as the horrifying scale of child sex exploitation in Rotherham was finally made public.
More than 1,400 children in the town were victims from 1997 to 2013, with girls as young as 11 gang raped.
An independent inquiry found ‘blatant’ failings from senior council managers and South Yorkshire Police.
Prof Alexis Jay OBE’s inquiry found, in two-thirds of the cases, the girls affected were not in care or previously known to authorities.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch an interview with Prof Jay who tels how she has never encountered such brutality and abuse.
Senior Rotherham Council managers and South Yorkshire Police ignored repeated warnings from frontline workers about the scale of the problem.
The damning report resulted yesterday afternoon in the resignation of Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone, in charge of the council since 2003. Prof Jay welcomed the resignation, saying: “Given the tenure of the council leader over the period of the inquiry, it seems appropriate.”
Council chief executive Martin Kimber, in post since late 2012, said he would not be resigning.
But he said: “The report does not make comfortable reading in its account of the horrific experiences of some young people in the past, and I would like to reiterate our sincere apology to those who were let down.
“I commissioned this review to understand what went wrong, and to ensure lessons learned in Rotherham mean these mistakes can never happen again.”
Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This damning report shows the full extent of how the children of Rotherham were let down. They will never get their childhoods back.
“Rotherham Council was in denial. Mr Stone is right to step down and others responsible should also be held to account. At the time we were critical of South Yorkshire Police for their failure to charge and prosecute. We hope the latest figures show an improvement in the position.
“The Home Affairs Select Committee recommended councils should have sufficient funding for multi-agency teams focused on preventing child abuse.
“These measures must be fully implemented now to ensure these horrific crimes are never allowed to happen again.”