CSE debate rages on — but claims refuted

CSE debate rages on — but claims refuted

By Gareth Dennison | 05/11/2021

CSE debate rages on — but claims refuted


OPPOSITION councillors will call on RMBC to acknowledge that child sexual exploitation remains a problem in Rotherham — and demand an apology to survivors for failings.

The Conservative group has tabled a motion for Rotherham Council to improve its response to intelligence reports indicating CSE and provide “proper” support for victims.

A debate will be held at the council meeting being held at Dinnington Resource Centre on Wednesday at 2pm.

Tory group leader Cllr Emily Barley said her members had reported CSE concerns — including locations, times, activities, names and number plates.

But she added: “When councillors reported their concerns and passed specific intelligence to Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police, they were variously ignored or treated as a nuisance.

“Nothing was actually done. While processes for dealing with intelligence and CSE may look good on paper, our experience is that in practice they do not work.”

Cllr Barley says senior councillors and officers at RMBC have been reluctant to talk about the subject.

She added: “We are really worried about this. The council seems to think that CSE is in the past and refers to what they did from 2014 to 2018 to tackle it.

“But what we’ve heard is that the model used by perpetrators has changed. “Organised gangs are grooming girls and boys and then criminally and sexually exploiting them.

“They are targeting vulnerable children, sometimes online, and then doing some of the most horrific things imaginable to them.

“Meanwhile, councillors and council officers are invested in the idea that CSE is in the past. We’re not sure whether it’s incompetence or cover up, but either way it’s not good enough.

“If we can figure this out in just a few months, it’s difficult to understand how the Council, police, and other local political parties could not know about it.”

The Tory group has also published a briefing paper explaining what members have discovered and reported.

Cllr Barley said: “Rotherham needs to realise that organised criminal gangs don’t just disappear overnight, and that we need to be constantly working to get ahead of them and protect children.

“Every day that the council refuses to accept there’s a problem, children are being groomed, raped, and trafficked.

“The recent individual cases I have heard about are absolutely heart-breaking, and seven years after the Jay report there is simply no excuse for doing nothing about it.”

Police commissioner Dr Alan Billings said the briefing paper contained “untruths”. He said both police and council had apologised, adding that all information sent by the Tories had been followed up — “but most of it was so vague that little could be done with it.”

He added: “The only hard evidence was a car registration number, but there is no vehicle with that number.

“Most of the information provided was vague or speculative – yet valuable police time was spent testing it out.”

Post-Jay Ofsted reports in 2017 and 2020 had noted the progress being made since, Dr Billings added.