Latest Public Sector News

03.09.14

Government considering its own investigation into Rotherham Council

The government is considering carrying out an independent investigation of Rotherham Council, after a report last week uncovered the severity of child abuse in the South Yorkshire town, home secretary Theresa May has said.

Speaking in the Commons, she said that the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, is “minded” to use his powers under the Local Government Act 1999, with a particular focus on its “corporate governance” and “service arrangements”.

May added that Pickles shares her concerns about failings at the local authority. “This includes the inadequate scrutiny by councillors, institutionalised political correctness, the covering up of information and the failure to take action against gross misconduct,” she said.

The announcement came after South Yorkshire Police said it had commissioned an independent inquiry into its handling of the scandal. Chief Constable David Crompton said: “A fully independent and impartial investigation is required to ensure that people have confidence that organisations or any individuals will be investigated fairly, rigorously and with complete impartiality.”

Last week’s report by Professor Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work, concluded that the council knew as far back as 2005 of sexual exploitation being committed on a wide scale mostly by Asian men in the town, yet failed to act.

Her report said more than 1,400 children were abused from 1997 to 2013.

Paul Lakin, deputy leader of Rotherham Council, said: “We welcome the announcement by the government of the decision to carry out an inspection of Rotherham Borough Council's corporate governance arrangements.”

It has also been announced that Shaun Wright, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, who was responsible for children's services at Rotherham Council from 2005 to 2010, will give evidence to a parliamentary committee.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I have spoken to Commissioner Wright this morning and informed him that the committee will want him to give evidence as part of our inquiry, and he has agreed to do so.”

The Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has also stated that Martin Kimber, the chief executive of Rotherham Council, and Joyce Thacker, the council's strategic director of children and young people's services, will be called to give evidence on 10 September.

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