Rotherham Council ‘not using its powers’ to tackle child abuse - report

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Rotherham Council is not using its powers to tackle child abuse on street corners, in parks and alleyways, officers do not know the law, and taxis are still being used to groom children.

Those are just a few of the explosive claims in the Casey Report, a new investigation into Rotherham Council which has highlighted the extent of the authority’s abject failure – not just to protect children from abuse in the past, but to respond to the Jay Report, which found at least 1,400 children had been abused by mainly Asian men in the town.

The 157 page report refers to several case studies of abused children who were let down by council officers and those in power.

Referring to victims as a letter to avoid identification, it said: “G’s parents need help to protect their daughter from CSE. They inform agencies of the circumstances, which include allegations of multiple rapes and threats of violence. They desperately want support and advice. They are told by social care that there is nothing they could do and that she had consented to sexual activity. G is 14.”

The report refers to three sisters, X, Y and Z, aged 14, 15 and 17. It said: “Threats were made to kill X by one of the perpetrators. The police interviewed X but did not act. Workers from (council child social worker body) Risky Business argued that X should be placed in care out of the area. Instead X was placed voluntarily in a local facility.”

The report goes on to say that X was assessed in September 2009 as being ‘at a very high risk’ and Y as ‘having been successfully groomed’. It adds: “10 other young people are also named as being victims of these same men.

“Mum says she cannot protect her children. Y is missing every night and is returning home with bites on her body.”

The report says a senior volunteer wrote to Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Police and a local MP.

“The letter questions why police are not doing more. They are not intervening, not proactively watching the residential home where X is accommodated and not arresting perpetrators.”

Despite police remanding one man in custody and another strategy meeting being held, the conclusion is: “The girls do not give evidence. No action was taken against the perpetrators.”

Rotherham Council was held responsible for failings as well as police.

The report said: “Tackling CSE is a community safety issue. Street grooming was happening in the community of which RMBC is the custodian including parks, takeaways, taxis, at the Interchange, in hotels, houses, alleyways and in the town centre.

“These are all areas where the local authority has a presence and has powers...These powers were not mobilised.”

The report also said people do not trust taxis in the town, and that senior leaders still do not accept taxis are involved in abuse, despite clear evidence.

It said: “Inspectors witnessed a discussion at a CSE tactical meeting in November 2014...the senior manager did not accept that there was a current problem with CSE and taxis and takeaways.”

South Yorkshire Police responded to the claims. It said: “The force has significantly increased the number of dedicated staff working to tackle child sexual exploitation. These officers and staff are victim-focused and all our investigations are victim-led. We work closely with a range of support services to ensure each victim receives tailored support for their needs.

“We still have much work to do and we will continue to improve the service we provide to victims and invest in further training for our officers and staff to deal with the extremely complex and sensitive issues surround child sexual exploitation.

“We are still assessing the findings of the Louise Casey report and are absolutely committed to supporting the victims of Child Sexual Exploitation, but recognise that there is much more needs to be done.

“South Yorkshire Police officers engaged with Louise Casey and her review team throughout her inquiry and we have made a firm commitment to meet with her in the near future to discuss her findings in further detail.”