South Yorkshire council boss ‘sorry’

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ROTHERHAM Council chief executive Martin Kimber has apologised to those ‘let down’ by the authorities who failed to take action over child sex grooming in the town.

Mr Kimber made the apology yesterday afternoon, when he was called to give evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee about the sexual exploitation of children in the town.

He said: “I would apologise to young people and families where they have been let down.

“I don’t think that’s ever as a consequence of individual failure, it’s nearly always systemic failure.”

Mr Kimber said that ‘shared responsibility and accountability’ with other agencies was the way to tackle the issue and added that the situation had improved in the past few years.

Mr Kimber was called to give evidence by committee chairman Keith Vaz MP who said MPs continued to be ‘concerned’ by the situation.

Allegations child sex grooming by Asian men against young white women was not being taken seriously emerged following a national newspaper investigation last year.

South Yorkshire Police have denied failing to take action.

The hearing has been told South Yorkshire did not prosecute anyone successfully last year for child sexual exploitation offences, compared with in Lancashire, where 100 people were convicted.

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Council’s director of children’s services, said the figures were ‘deeply disappointing’.

But she said convictions were the ‘icing on the cake’ and disruption was also an important part of tackling the issue. Other officials could be called to give evidence at a later date.