Rotherham sex exploitation inquiry launched

Councillor Roger Stone
Councillor Roger Stone

An independent inquiry has been announced at Rotherham Council into child sex exploitation.

The announcement was made by council leader Coun Roger Stone to a meeting of the full cabinet yesterday - where he also ‘apologised unreservedly’ to young people let down by council services which ‘simply weren’t good enough’.

“I know I speak for us all in condemning unreservedly this vile crime and acknowledging the devastating impact it has on the young victims and those who love and care for them,” he told fellow councillors.

“We apologise unreservedly to those young people who have been let down by our safeguarding services which prior to 2009 simply weren’t good enough.”

He added: “Following detailed discussions with the chief executive, I am asking cabinet to endorse the proposal to commission an independent inquiry into historic child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham.

“It goes without saying I expect the inquiry’s findings to be made public.

“The chief executive will bring back a report to cabinet at its next meeting in two weeks, when we will see the detailed approach and begin what I see as a significant milestone in our fight against the scourge of child sexual exploitation.”

The announcement comes after four women said they are to sue the council for ‘systematic failures to protect them’ while in care.

One of the women claims authorities were ‘well aware’ she was in a sexual relationship with a 24-year-old man when she was a girl.

Last month the deputy leader of Rotherham Council, Jahangir Akhtar, stepped down temporarily from his post and as vice-chairman of the Police and Crime Panel after a national newspaper reported he was related to the girl’s alleged abuser and was aware of their relationship, which dated back to 1999.

South Yorkshire Police criticised The Times for publishing the story.

It said the article had the potential to ‘seriously undermine and, at worst, cause fatal damage’ to ongoing inquiries.