‘Misleading’ figures that claimed the majority of Rotherham child sexual exploitation offenders were white were wrongly included in a major report on the town’s plan to tackle abuse, it has been revealed.
A version of ‘The Way Forward’ report by Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board presented to Rotherham councillors and local authority officers in July contained a chapter called ‘The Rotherham CSE Profile’.
The chapter said a ‘needs analysis’ of child sexual exploitation victims covering 2012 to 2014 had found the number of offenders, including suspects, was mainly made up of white people.
It claimed 68 per cent of CSE offenders in the town were white, with 24 per cent from Asian backgrounds.
The report followed the Jay report last year which said ‘by far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’ by victims’ in cases examined by her team.
Professor Alexis Jay’s inquiry said the majority of known perpetrators organising child sexual exploitation in Rotherham were of Pakistani heritage.
The Star requested a copy of the needs analysis from Rotherham Council via the Freedom of Information Act.
But the council has now revealed the information should not have been included in the report, as the needs analysis has not been finalised.
An updated version of the report now published on the Safeguarding Children’s Board website does not include the chapter or any of the figures.
Stephen Ashley, the independent chair of the board since August 2013, left the post in September.
A Rotherham Council spokeswoman said the inclusion was ‘a drafting error’.
She said: “The full CSE needs analysis mentioned in the July draft has taken some time to finalise, as collecting accurate data about child sexual exploitation is an evolving process, particularly with the complexities of separating out sexual abuse of children from specific child sexual exploitation which now has a recognised definition.”
The spokesman said while ‘The Way Forward’ strategy for the next three years has now been signed off, the needs analysis report has had ‘further work on it’ and will be considered by the safeguarding board next month.
At the council meeting in July, concerns were raised about the figures by Jean Imray, interim deputy strategic director of children and young people’s services.
Ms Imray said ‘some of the data referenced could be misleading and was not telling services what they wanted to know’.
The minutes of the meeting said: “The data might not show enough distinction between CSE and other forms of sexual offence, for example, intra familial abuse.”
Rotherham Council said Mr Ashley had already announced his decision to step down as chair of the safeguarding board prior to the July meeting, ‘having felt the time was right to hand over to a new chair’. The council said the meeting had ‘no bearing’ on his decision to leave.
A spokeswoman said the data about offender profiles had been collected from South Yorkshire Police.
New chair of the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board Christine Cassell said: “Collecting accurate data about Child Sexual Exploitation is an evolving process. Partners and ourselves continue to build on our knowledge and are using available data taken at a snap shot in time, but it is anticipated the data will become over time more reflective of the needs of victims and survivors of CSE.”