Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal: Councillors unite to acknowledge the “true scale” of CSE

Councillors from all sides of the political spectrum united to unanimously accept a notice of motion to acknowledge the “true scale” of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham during a full council meeting yesterday (November 10).

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:25 pm

Last week, Rotherham Conservatives released a bombshell report, alleging that councillors has found “multiple examples of active grooming and CSE in multiple locations across Rotherham” – seven years after the Jay Report estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

The group slammed the council and police’s response to the reports, calling them “lacking”.

Although the Labour administration submitted an amendment that was accepted, opposing Conservatives voted to still accept the motion, which called for the council to acknowledge that “CSE may be occurring on the same scale as in the past.”

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Councillors from all sides of the political spectrum united to unanimously accept a notice of motion to acknowledge the “true scale” of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham during a full council meeting yesterday (November 10).

Labour also asked that any further evidence uncovered by the Conservatives be reported to the council in the next three months.

Proposing the motion, Councillor Emily Barley, leader of the Rotherham Conservative group, said: ” I believe that all of us in this room agree that child sexual exploitation is still a problem in Rotherham.

“It is my view that one child being groomed and raped is one too many, and I hope that we can agree on that.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the way child sexual exploitation is tackled here could be better. Surely, it can always be better.

“I’m proposing this motion today because I and my team found problems in the system as it stands and we want to address this.”

Coun Barley called on the Labour administration to train staff and contractors to spot the signs of CSE, launch a public information campaign, and review and internal procedures for handling reports of CSE.

Councillor Jill Thompson, also of the Rotherham Conservative group, seconded the motion, telling the meeting: “I am sick of hearing form RMBC ‘we all care about CSE’.

“This is the time to let people know what’s really happening in Rotherham today.

“RMBC and SYP have not and are not doing anywhere near enough to tackle it, and I have been disgusted by the whole process and dismissive responses from both organisations to reports of possible CSE.

“How would you feel if you thought your daughter, or a child in your family was possibly being groomed, you or someone else reported it, and the police and council ignored it.

“Last week we were accused of not giving enough detail to the police we were accused of being vague. Apparently I need to put my safety at risk to investigate because the police are unwilling to do anything except send a patrol car to have a look for five minutes at the wrong time of day.”

Councillor Chris Read, leader of the council, said that tackling CSE has been the authority’s “top priority”, and that £20m a year more has been spent on children’s social care this year.

“We’ve recently committed more resources to respond to the growing threat of child criminal exploitation.

“The excellent staff from across agencies on the child exploitation tactical meeting come together every week to review the intelligence and made sure that every tool is used in a timely manner.

“The way we talk about child abuse also has consequences.

“In the past, Rotherham had a very acute problem with men from Pakistani heritage, who groomed and abused children.

“As a result, some people still believe that CSE just means Asian grooming gangs.

“Extremists have used that as an excuse to promote hate and our whole Asian community have suffered as a result.

“A friend of my family, Mushin Ahmed, an entirely innocent Muslim man, was murdered as a result.

"But what we see today is that perpetrators of CSE in Rotherham are commonly white, British men.

“So if we’re not careful about what we say, not only do innocent people get hurt, but we also miss the threat to children.”

Coun Read added that in the six years since the Jay Report was released, there have been 636 children deemed “at risk” of CSE by Rotherham Council, and had carried out 1,600 risk assessments in the same period.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, please contact trained counsellors on the 24 hour helplines run by Childline on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.