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Rotherham head of children’s services resigns in wake of abuse scandal

The head of children’s services at Rotherham Council, Joyce Thacker, has stepped down from her role in the wake of the Jay Report.

The council announced the move on Friday, saying she was leaving “by mutual agreement, with immediate effect”. The announcement comes following the revelation that she has been off work sick since Monday.

Thacker, who was deputy director of children’s services before she was promoted to head of the department in 2008, initially resisted calls for her to step down after 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.

At a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing last week, she refused to stand down as she had worked “tirelessly” to tackle the issue in Rotherham.

She told MPs: “I have given that a lot of thought and I am not stepping aside, for the simple reason I am accountable to the people and the children and families in Rotherham.

“I could have done more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I don’t accept there was a full dereliction of my duty.”

The committee called on outgoing council chief executive Martin Kimber to sack Ms Thacker since she refused to join him in stepping down.

She was also grilled by MPs at the Communities and Local Government select committee.

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, told the BBC: "I questioned her at the committee and it was quite clear from that cross-examination that she'd failed the young girls of Rotherham, so I'm pleased she's gone."

Thacker is the latest in a series of resignation prompted by the report. Labour council leader Roger Stone resigned shortly after the report was released and he was soon followed by the council chief executive Martin Kimber.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright eventually joined them, after initially refusing to stand down. Wright was the councillor responsible for children’s services from 2005 to 2010. Amid repeated calls for him to stand down he initially said it was “not the right thing” for him to leave, and said he’d stand down in two years time. However the pressure from public opinion and media coverage eventually led to him resigning last week.

(Image: c. Dave Higgens/PA Wire)

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