1 Introduction |
1. On 18 November 2014 we published a report, Child
sexual exploitation in Rotherham: some issues for local government.
Our report followed the publication of the Independent Inquiry
into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham: 1997-2013 by
Professor Alexis Jay OBE (the "Jay Report")
on 26 August 2014, which provided a damning indictment of the
failure of one local authority to protect its children from organised
sexual exploitation. We, like other MPs, were shocked not only
by what the Jay Report showed had been happening in Rotherham
since 1997 but by the implication that the pattern revealed could
be repeated across the country. We have therefore closely followed
developments in Rotherham and we are now able to follow up two
matters since our earlier report.
2. First, we considered that the Jay Report posed
serious questions about the performance of Ofsted and its inspection
of Rotherham Council's children's services. We therefore said
in our earlier report that we would be questioning Ofsted about
its record at Rotherham.
We took evidence from Debbie Jones, Director, Social Care and
Regional Director, London, Ofsted, who has been in post since
2013, and, exceptionally, from former officers in post from 2007,
when Ofsted took over responsibilities for inspection of children's
i) Michael Hart, Director for Children, June
2007 to December 2008;
ii) John Goldup, Director of Social Care Development,
September 2009, then National Director for Development and Strategy
and finally, January 2012 to April 2013, Deputy Chief Inspector;
iii) Miriam Rosen, Director, Education, April
2004 to August 2009, Executive Director, September 2009 to April
2010 and then Her Majesty's Chief Inspector (interim), July 2011
to January 2012.
Having taken their evidence we have a number of concerns
about Ofsted's performance, which we set out at chapter 2.
THE REPORT OF INSPECTION OF ROTHERHAM
METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL
3. Second, on 10 September 2014, after the publication
of the Jay Report, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State
for Communities and Local Government, announced that he would
use his powers to commission an independent inspection of the
compliance of Rotherham Council in the exercise of its functions
on governance, children and young people, and taxi and private
hire licensing. He appointed Louise Casey CB to carry out the
inspection and asked her to report.
We said that we intended to call Ms Casey to give evidence after
she and her team had completed the inspection at Rotherham. Her
Report of Inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
(the "Casey Report"),
was published on 4 February 2015 and we took evidence from her
on 23 February. We comment on the Casey Report and Ms Casey's
evidence in chapter 3.
ROGER STONE, FORMER LEADER OF ROTHERHAM
METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL
4. On 10 March we took evidence from Roger Stone,
the Leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council from 2003
to 2014. Our purpose in asking him to appear was to put to him
the serious criticism of his leadership and management of children's
services set out in the Jay and Casey Reports. We have published
a transcript of the session,
which speaks for itself. Our views on the failure of the authority
are set out in this and our earlier report. Having
carefully listened to, and read, Mr Stone's evidence we are clear
that in the light of the findings of Professor Jay and Louise
Casey, which we fully accept, the authority which he led failed
to protect the children of Rotherham from organised sexual exploitation.
In these circumstances as Leaderand given that he was aware
of the child sexual exploitation from 2004/05 and given the culture
in the Council which prevented the follow through and tackling
of child sexual exploitation on the scale it was occurring in
RotherhamMr Stone's position was wholly untenable. Therefore
he had no alternative other than to resign and to apologise.
5. In contrast to most of our inquiries the evidence
we took in this case was predominantly oral evidence. We did,
however, receive written supplementary submissions from Ofsted,
the Local Government Association and the memorandum from Roger
Stone, which we have published.
This inquiry was also unusual, as we have noted, in that we took
the exceptional step of calling three former Ofsted officials
to give oral evidence. They gave evidence in personal capacities
as former employees of Ofsted.
We did this because the current senior official at Ofsted with
responsibilities for children's services had only been in post
since 2013 and the Jay Report highlighted deficiencies in the
service from 1997.
6. We would like to thank all those who gave evidence
and our specialist adviser, Gladys Rhodes White.
Measures announced on 3 March
7. On 3 March in response to the Jay and other reports,
including one published that day concerning child sexual exploitation
in Oxfordshire, the
Government announced a package of measures to protect children.
Child sex abuse has been prioritised as a "national threat",
like serious and organised crime, meaning that police forces,
chief constables and police and crime commissioners will have
a duty to collaborate with each other across boundaries to safeguard
children. The Government also announced proposals to extend the
crime of "wilful neglect" to cover children's social
care and education, with unlimited fines for individuals and organisations
shown to have let children down. In addition, senior staff who
leave councils after abuse scandals could see their pay-offs clawed
back if it is shown they failed to protect children under their
responsibility. A new national helpline will be established to
help professionals blow the whistle on failings in care for children.
1 Communities and Local Government Committee, Third
Report of Session 2014-15, Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham: some issues for local government,
HC 648 Back
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997 - 2013,
(the "Jay Report") Back
Communities and Local Government Committee, Third Report of Session
2014-15 Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham: some issues for local government,
HC 648, para 34 Back
HC Deb, 10 September 2014, cols 37-40WS Back
Department for Communities and Local Government, Report of Inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council,
February 2015, HC (2014-15) 1050 (the "Casey Report") Back
Qq526 and following Back
Roger Stone (JRR 005) Back
Qq353 [John Goldup], 488, 490 [Miriam Rosen] Back
Ms Rhodes White had no interests to declare. Back
Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire: from the experiences of Children A, B, C, D, E, and F,
February 2015 Back
HC Deb, 3 March 2015, cols 812-14; Gov.UK, "PM unveils tough new measures to tackle child sexual exploitation",
5 March 2015 Back