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Rotherham Council accused of 'cover-up' efforts

Rotherham Council has been accused of going to "some lengths to cover up information and silence whistle-blowers" in an inspection report following the town's abuse scandal.

Today's report found that "the Council’s concern with its reputation leads it to cover up information which it would prefer not to be in the public domain."

It said the most high profile example of this related to a serious case review of a child who was murdered in the town in 2010, which initially featured heavy redactions until a challenge from The Times newspaper.

The Times claimed that the review - which was eventually published in a less-heavily redacted version in 2013 - had been censored to mask associated failures by staff within the council.

Rotherham Council has yet to respond to the numerous allegations contained in the report.

'Past and present council failures' over Rotherham abuse

Last year's Jay Report found that more than 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. Credit: PA

A government-commissioned report into Rotherham Council has accused the authority of "past and present failures" in dealing with allegations of widespread child abuse in the town.

Louise Casey's inspection report found that staff at the authority denied any responsibility after findings from a previous report by Alexis Jay, which highlighted abuse against more than 1,400 children between 1997 and 2013.

Her report said figures in the council believed "they were no worse than anyone else" and claimed the "media were out to get them".

Casey said: "This inspection revealed past and present failures to accept, understand and combat the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE), resulting in a lack of support for victims and insufficient action against known perpetrators.

"The council's culture is unhealthy: bullying, sexism, suppression and misplaced 'political correctness' have cemented its failures. The council is currently incapable of tackling its weaknesses, without a sustained intervention."

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'What happened in Rotherham could happen anywhere'

What happened in Rotherham could "could happen anywhere", a victim of abuse in the town told ITV News.

The girl, one of an estimated 1,400 child sex victims in the area, said: "It can happen to anyone. It's not just a problem in Rotherham. It's a problem all over the country.

"What officials need to do is acknowledge that it's a problem and show that they are going to tackle it. Not just say yes, we know it's a problem, but to start and prove to people that they are going to challenge it."

Rotherham's new director of children's services Jane Parfrement said any council worker not up to the job faces the sack.

An Ofsted report into child sexual exploitation identified seven other problem areas in the England where services need to be improved.

It said Brent, Bristol, Camden, Kent, Luton, Oldham and Rochdale, are "not responding to child sexual exploitation consistently or well" and leaving children "exposed to risk of harm".

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Ofsted: 'Not enough to wait for the next scandal'

Ofsted's national director for social care has said it not enough to 'simply wait for the next scandal to happen' in a damning report on councils' response to child sexual exploitation.

While we have found examples of excellent frontline practice, it is clear that some areas have moved faster, further and more effectively than others.

It is not enough to simply wait for the next scandal to happen. We are calling on all local authorities and their partners to ensure that they have a comprehensive multi-agency strategy and action plan in place to tackle child sexual exploitation.

– Debbie Jones, Ofsted's national director for social care

Ofsted: Councils 'too slow' over child sexual exploitation

The education watchdog has warned that the most vulnerable children in society are at risk of sexual exploitation due to unacceptable failings by social services, health workers and police.

Ofsted: Councils 'too slow' over child sexual exploitation Credit: PA

Ofsted said local authorities have been "too slow" to face up to their responsibilities in preventing child sexual exploitation while those designed to protect young people had failed to share information with others.

Arrangements to tackle sexual exploitation at a local level were described as "underdeveloped", while leadership was criticised as being "frequently lacking".

IPCC probe 'positive step' for victims' families

The Commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission has said she hopes the investigation into 10 police officers is seen as a "positive step" for Rotherham abuse victims and their families.

Kathryn Stone said: "The amount of public concern across the country about this episode and the impact on confidence in the police means it is important that a fully independent investigation is conducted to establish how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation.

"I sincerely hope that victims and their families will see this investigation as a positive step towards answering the many questions they must have.

"I have met with South Yorkshire Police and am reassured by their commitment to fully cooperate with the investigation."

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