Shaun Wright has resigned as South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner this morning.
In a statement he said the focus on his role in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal was ‘detracting’ the focus from bringing abusers to justice.
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The Police and Crime Panel is to appoint an acting commissioner while a by-election to find Mr Wright’s permanent replacement is arranged.
Mr Wright said: “My role as South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has clearly become prominent in terms of public opinion and media coverage following the publication of Professor Alexis Jay’s report. This is detracting from the important issue, which should be everybody’s focus - the 1400 victims outlined in the report - and in providing support to victims and bringing to justice the criminals responsible for the atrocious crimes committed against them.
“With this in mind, I feel that it is now right, to step down from the position of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, for the sake of those victims, for the sake of the public of South Yorkshire and to ensure that the important issues outlined in the report about tackling child sexual exploitation can be discussed and considered in full and without distraction.
“As I’ve previously stated, I entered into public service to make a positive difference in South Yorkshire. Protecting vulnerable people and particularly victims of child sexual exploitation has been my number one priority as Commissioner and much progress has been made over the last two years.
“My intention had always been to continue my work with South Yorkshire Police and partners in making all the necessary changes and improvements required to safeguard and support the victims of these horrific crimes, and indeed to protect further potential victims through preventative actions.
“On resigning, I therefore truly wish the force, all the very best in continuing the journey of positive transformational change of those essential services which protect and support our most vulnerable people.”
News of his departure has been widely welcomed today, including by Sheffield MPs Nick Clegg and David Blunkett.
Mr Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said: “People in South Yorkshire will welcome the news that the Police and Crime Commissioner has finally done the decent thing and stood aside. The important thing now is for the South Yorkshire Police to concentrate on going after the perpetrators of these terrible crimes so that the victims can finally see justice.”
Mr Blunkett, who has ruled out standing as a candidate to be Mr Wright’s replacement, said: “I am pleased that Shaun Wright has made the inevitable decision to stand down. He is correct to say that attention should be on redress for those abused, and on lessons to be learnt and measures put in place to deal with situation that has occurred over the last two decades.
“I am personally very sad for Shaun Wright’s family who did not deserve to be in the spotlight, which is why it is a great pity for him and for all concerned that he did not step down immediately.
“It will now be critically important to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner with a proven record of high quality public service, who can unite across the political divide, the communities of South Yorkshire and reinforce the work of the Chief Constable in providing a top quality service to the people of our area who deserve the best.”