Rotherham's Child Sex Exploitation fears denied by review

Rotherham's Child Sex Exploitation fears denied by review

By Gareth Dennison | 08/06/2022

Rotherham's Child Sex Exploitation fears denied by review


ALLEGATIONS that CSE in Rotherham is being ignored were “unfounded”, councillors heard following an independent review.

The report was triggered after a Tory group briefing paper in November which said reaction to raising concerns had been “poor, with slow or no action taken”.

The findings — revealed by the Advertiser in March — went before the council’s scrutiny board on May 27.

Review panel chair Jenny Myers, chairman of Rotherham Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: “We have taken this extremely seriously.

“We examined and traced every one of the 37 reports of information and found that they had been acted upon and dealt with appropriately.

“There was evidence within the material that we looked at that there was a really robust partnership response to the concerns, that they had been dealt with effectively and that the original concerns in the briefing paper were unfounded.

“We found no evidence that child sexual exploitation was occurring on the same scale as it had in the past.

“Of course, child sexual exploitation is occurring. But what we felt reassured of was that there were effective, robust, partnership practices in place to address concerns when they come in.”

The review made suggestions for improvements, including more detailed safeguarding training for councillors and a wider-reaching CSE public awareness campaign.

It also noted that “considerable time” was still needed for the council and police to rebuild trust from the public.

But Mrs Myers said Rotherham was ahead of the curve in its general approach to CSE.

“I would expect Rotherham to be leading the way,” she added.

“It should be setting the gold standard and it should continue to invest and set that gold standard.”

Cllr Tim Baum-Dixon, Conservative member on the scrutiny panel, said: “I’m glad that we brought the motion that we did. I’m glad that you have taken it in the way that it was intended and positives have come from it.

“Sometimes we get the comments about ‘new councillors’.

“Sometimes it’s missed that we are a reflection of the people we represent. It’s about members of the public, and giving them confidence.

“I’m reassured when I’ve read some of this report. I know that things are in a better place.

“We were elected, and that’s what we were being told.

“There is still this issue that the perception of the public may not be up to the reality. They still aren’t confident that things are being done.”

Afterwards, RMBC leader Cllr Chris Read said: “Anyone with concerns that a child might be being exploited should come forward with confidence that the information they give will be taken seriously — not because I say so, but because people who’ve given their lives to working in this field have validated our approach.

“Most importantly, I hope this gives assurance to those who are victims of abuse that help is available, and that their abusers should face the full force of the law.”

Cllr Zach Collingham, Rotherham Conservatives deputy leader, said: “While the review does provide reassurance, it also identifies areas for improvement. There remains too wide a gap between the strategic efforts clearly being made to tackle CSE and the first-hand experience of some survivors, members of the public and councillors on the ground.”