Rotherham MP blasts Government over lack of resources to tackle child sexual exploitation

Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham

Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion has criticised the Government over the lack of resources available to tackle child sexual exploitation.

The attack came after Home Secretary Theresa May rejected a National Crime Agency bid for support for Rotherham victims, and South Yorkshire Police announced it was to cut 850 staff over the next four years.

In a question to the Home Secretary, Ms Champion said: “On Friday, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner announced the loss of 850 police staff because of Government cuts.

“Also last week, the National Crime Agency’s application to the Home Office for support for Rotherham’s 1,400 victims of child abuse was rejected.

“How are we meant to bring down child sexual exploitation when the Government are cutting police resources?”

The National Crime Agency had applied for additional support from the Home Office for a multi-agency centre to provide support to victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation.

The application was rejected.

The NCA was called in by South Yorkshire’s Chief Constable Peter Crompton to investigate incidents of child sexual exploitation and identify victims after an independent report into the issue found that 1,400 children had been abused in the town while authorities turned a blind eye.

Last week South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings announced that 850 police staff were to be cut over the next four years, with the loss of 115 police officers and 732 support workers.

Since 2010, more than 1,000 police jobs have been lost, including 458 officers.

Home Office workforce statistics show that 40,000 police jobs were lost nationally between 2010 and 2015.

Mrs May failed to answer Champion’s question, saying that overall police budgets were protected and that the National Crime Agency had been given the necessary resources for its investigation.

She said she accepted that Rotherham had suffered ‘particularly challenging times as a result of child sexual exploitation’.

Mrs May added: “I can assure her that I and other ministers involved take the issue very seriously indeed.

“That is why we have taken steps such as setting up the Goddard inquiry, and why we have made money available to the national policing lead in order to better co-ordinate the work that is done in this area.”

The Goddard Inquiry is an independent review of whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.

It is led by Dame Lowell Goddard.