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10.02.15

Rotherham MBC suppressed child sex exploitation report in 2002

A former Home Office researcher has claimed that her warnings about child sexual exploitation in Rotherham were suppressed in 2002 by intimidation and a “bullying culture” at the council.

Last August an independent inquiry revealed that at least 1,400 children in the Rotherham area had been sexually abused over a 16-year period, and that the council knew about it since 2005 but failed to act. However these new claims would indicate the council was aware even earlier.

The researcher, Adele Gladman, was working on a Home Office pilot at the council. She describes being subjected to bullying and intimidation after her research found a small number of men, mainly of Pakistani heritage, were sexually exploiting a significant number of young people.

PSE has previously reported these claims when she made them to the Home Affairs Select Committee in October, however this is the first time she has been named and spoken out publicly.

"What I didn't realise was just how many whistle-blowers there had been over the years and how many opportunities to change poor practice,” Gladman told the BBC.

"That has cost young people their health, their happiness and in some cases their lives. That is unforgiveable."

When she raised the issue of the abuse being carried out by men of Pakistani heritage she says the council sent her on race awareness training and effectively suppressed her report.

"I had every aspect of my professionalism questioned," she said. "I had every aspect of my work questioned. I had data removed over a weekend so that I couldn't substantiate my findings. Fortunately I had made copies."

She also claims that the bullying she faced went beyond the council and extended to South Yorkshire Police.

She told the BBC that an officer approached her and said: “Wouldn't it be a shame if these perpetrators found out where you and your family lived”.

"I took that as a direct threat to my personal safety. The message was very clear," she added.

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South Yorkshire Police told the BBC they could not comment on the claim.

But in a statement they said: "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 more needs to be done.

"We will adopt the good practice and recommendations identified by the commissioners, victims and survivors panel to build on the progress made to date. We want to reassure the public that prosecuting offenders remains a top priority for the force."

She also told the Home Affairs committee that in a report that was about to be sent to the Home Office she referred to the “alleged indifference towards, and ignorance of, child sexual exploitation on the part of senior managers”.

However before this report could be sent an “unknown individual” gained access to her office and removed all data relating to the Home Office work.

When she made these claims to the Home Affairs committee they called for "a full, transparent and urgent" inquiry and asked the Home Office to do "everything in its power" to locate any missing files in its possession relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and other places.

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the committee, said: “We found it shocking that evidence of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham was ignored by both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police. A number of individuals attempted to bring these crimes to light, only to face obstacles from the council and police, which in some cases questioned their credibility and the veracity of their claims. If the council and police had taken these warnings seriously, the abusers could have been brought to justice more quickly and some of the later victims could have been spared their ordeal. Others should take serious note.

“The proliferation of revelations about files which can no longer be located gives rise to public suspicion of a deliberate cover-up. The only way to address these concerns is with a full, transparent and urgent investigation. The Home Office must do everything in its power to locate any missing files in its possession relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and other places.”

Earlier this month a government-ordered inquiry into Rotherham MBC by Louise Casey was published. Her investigation uncovered a culture of bullying, sexism, suppression and “misplaced political correctness" at the council.

Casey writes in the forward to her report that upon arriving at Rotherham she discovered “a council in denial”.

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(Image of Louise Casey with David Cameron courtesy Number 10. Crown Copyright)

She wrote: “RMBC demonstrates a resolute denial of what has happened in the borough. This took several forms – notable in their recurrence – including dismissal of Professor Jay’s findings, denial of knowledge of the ‘scale and scope’ of CSE, blaming others, and denial that CSE remains a serious problem in present day Rotherham.”

Casey found the council “not fit for purpose”. As a result of the report the entire cabinet of the local authority resigned and communities secretary Eric Pickles is moving in to take over all the executive functions previously in there charge.

He plans to send in a team of five commissioners to run the authority until elections are held in 2016 to “refresh the authority and its cabinet”.

The interim chief executive at the authority, Jan Ormondroyd, has since written to the Department for Communities and Local Government, asking them to “urgently” confirm the commissioners who will take over running council services.

Ormondroyd said: “Louise Casey’s report describes a catalogue of cultural and system failings, and we have accepted its findings.

“The council could and should have done more in the past and we apologise for the devastating impact that this has had on the lives of the people of Rotherham.

“What Rotherham needs now is a move towards stability, a clear way forward and the fresh start which Louise Casey and her team have called for.

“We understand the impact of the current uncertainties around the future leadership and management of the council on the people of Rotherham, and also on staff in the council.

“I have written to the Department for Communities & Local Government, urging them to confirm urgently who the five commissioners who will take over the running of the council will be and to ensure they are in place as soon as possible.

“Given the scale of change which the council is now facing, it is inevitable that there will be questions that people will have that we can’t answer immediately. However, we are committed to sharing information and providing clarity as soon as we can.

“In the meantime, the people of Rotherham will not see any disruption to the way in which we deliver our day-to-day services for citizens.”

(Top image source: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opininon@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

George Hissyfit   05/12/2016 at 21:58

She also claims that the bullying she faced went beyond the council and extended to South Yorkshire Police. "{She (Adele Gladman) told the BBC that an officer approached her and said: “Wouldn't it be a shame if these perpetrators found out where you and your family lived”. "I took that as a direct threat to my personal safety. The message was very clear," she added.}" This does not seem to merit further examination. Why?

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