Six staff sacked in Rotherham over incidents which risked harming children

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Six people involved in children’s services in Rotherham were sacked and a further four resigned for putting children at risk of harm in the past year, a new report has revealed.

A report from the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board at Rotherham Council said there were a total of 63 incidents last financial year - 2013 to 2014 - which were investigated because they could ‘place children at risk of harm from professionals, volunteers or foster carers’.

The new figures come after the Jay Report revealed at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in the town between 1997 and 2013.

The Safeguarding Children Board report said there were 63 incidents investigated by the Local Authority Designated Officer, which has ‘responsibility for oversight and coordination of all allegations that may place children at risk of harm from professionals, volunteers or foster carers’.

Allegations were made against 17 social carers including foster carers, 19 education professionals, eight child minders, one police member of staff, six voluntary youth group organisations and five residential care workers.

Of the 63 incidents, seven are still being investigated and 20 were found to be substantiated, involving 24 staff members.

Of those 24 staff, six have been sacked, including three which were involved in one incident. The report did not detail what the incident was.

Four people resigned, two foster carers were de-registered and three other staff received written warnings following ‘internal disciplinary processes’.

In the voluntary sector, ‘the services of two people were ceased’ and in a further six cases, staff were required to undertake further training around ‘safeguarding issues’, the report said.

A total of 35 cases were found to be ‘unsubstantiated’, which the report defined as having ‘insufficient evidence to prove or disprove,’ and no further action was taken.

Three allegations were classed as ‘unfounded’, meaning there was evidence to disprove the incidents, it said.

Introducing the report, Stephen Ashley, chair of Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Since we completed this year’s annual report Professor Alexis Jay OBE has completed and published her report into child exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

“There is no one who will not be touched by the tragic story of the victims who have been subject to horrific sexual exploitation over that period.

“There will be no one who isn’t angry that this was allowed to happen in Rotherham, despite warnings that should have been evident to officials and professionals working here.

“It is shameful that we have let these children down so badly.

“Whilst we know we have made progress in Rotherham there is more work to be done.

“The first and biggest concern is for the victims. It is essential that, where we have not already done so, we identify victims and provide them with the help and support they will need for many years to come.

“The second priority is to investigate and prosecute those offenders who perpetrate this horrific abuse.

“We must also reach out to our young people and provide the facilities to educate and protect them from sexual exploitation.

“We must develop links across all of our communities, so that young people know where to turn when they need help.

“By our actions we must show that our communities can once again have confidence and trust in our public services. We must, as a board, take a close look at the report and ensure that the recommendations are taken forward, swiftly, and in their entirety.”

The report went on to outline the board’s current work on child sexual exploitation.

It said: “Over the course of the last year almost 3,500 staff, councillors, young people, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators and members of the public have attended a CSE training or awareness event.

“This is an increase on the previous year of almost 1,500 people. Work is now underway to ensure that this awareness is available to all staff, with more specialised training available for those working directly with children and young people.”

Under the heading ‘key developments and next steps planned for 2014/15’, it said: “At the time of publication of this report we have just received the outcome of the independent inquiry into historic CSE cases, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council’s Chief Executive. Together with other local, regional and national reviews, this will further inform the development of our multi-agency approach.

“Robust investigation in relation to the disclosure of CSE offences, current or historic, has resulted in the successful prosecution of offenders. During 2013-14 police investigations into CSE-related offences have led to 41 interviews under caution, 23 arrests and five successful prosecutions.

“Police intelligence systems have been reviewed and a new improved framework put in place which is linked to the police briefing systems.

“These improvements and on-going developments in information and intelligence gathering are enabling the police and the CSE team to respond quickly to individual cases and emerging trends.”