Former police and crime commissioner ‘refused’ to give evidence to Rotherham investigators

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South Yorkshire’s former police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright and the former leader of Rotherham Council Roger Stone both declined to be interviewed by those carrying out the new inspection into Rotherham Council, it has emerged today.

The inspection was announced by Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles in September last year.

The aim was to examine a range of issues including whether the council covers up information, whether whistleblowers are silenced and whether it “was and continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness, affecting its decision-making on sensitive issues”.

Louise Casey, who is director-general for troubled families at the Communities Department, was also tasked with looking at all aspects of how the council liaises with other organisations, including the police.

The Jay Report has already provoked two investigations by Commons committees and a range of other inquiries.

A number of high-profile figures resigned in its wake, including South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, who had been a councillor in the town and responsible for children’s services.

Other resignations included those of the council leader, Roger Stone, the chief executive, Martin Kimber, and its director of children’s services, Joyce Thaker.

Louise Casey said Mr Wright, who resigned only after weeks of pressure last year, declined to be interviewed by the inspectors, as did former council leader Roger Stone.

The National Crime Agency has taken over the investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and is in the preliminary stage of its inquiry.

Last week, Rotherham’s Labour MP, Sarah Champion, said she now thinks the figures in the Jay Report may be an under-estimate.

Ms Champion, who was elected in a November 2012 by-election, told a Sky News investigation: “The Jay Report said 1,400, but I’m getting new victims coming to me on a weekly basis.

“So I would say it’s closer to a couple of thousand people who have been groomed or have been sexually exploited in this little town.”

The publication of Ms Casey’s report comes as new allegations have emerged about the involvement of councillors and police in the scandal.

A police officer and two councillors have today been accused of having sex with victims in the town.

Complaints about two councillors are understood to have been sent to the National Crime Agency and allegations about the police officer have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is conducting an ongoing investigation into some officers’ actions in Rotherham.

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An IPCC spokesman said: “The IPCC’s independent investigation into the conduct of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers in relation to their handling of reported child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is ongoing.

“This is a large and complex investigation. Since we announced our investigation we have received 20 individual complaints.

“Work is ongoing to assess these complaints to determine whether they are new allegations or matters already under the remit of our investigation.

“We have also been liaising with the National Crime Agency in relation to their investigation examining criminal allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham to ensure nothing is done to prejudice any future potential criminal prosecutions and both investigations deal with the victims as sensitively as possible.”

The NCA said its investigation in Rotherham is at an intelligence-gathering stage.

Asked today whether children were now safe in Rotherham, Ms Casey said: “In my view, they are not safe enough.”

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