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Children's services in Rotherham remain 'inadequate', Ofsted finds

Ofsted inspectors referred 13 examined cases in Rotherham back to the local authority because of 'serious issues of concern'. Photo: PA

Children's services in Rotherham remain "inadequate", according to an Ofsted inspection launched after a report found widespread sexual exploitation in the town.

The schools watchdog's report ruled there are "widespread or serious failures" that result in children "being harmed or at risk of harm".

Ofsted inspected services in Rotherham in September, a month after the Jay Report revealed more than 1,400 children had been subjected to sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.

The report said police and social workers in Rotherham were still ineffective at working together to tackle child abuse. Credit: PA

The report in August detailed how children had been raped and trafficked by organised gangs of men on a huge scale.

Today Ofsted's report painted a damning picture of children's services and the Local Safeguarding Children Board's ability to tackle ongoing and future abuse.

It said Ofsted inspectors referred 13 examined cases back to the local authority because of "serious issues of concern" and found "poor practice" remained despite new systems being put in place after the Jay Report.

Ofsted said the leaders and managers in Rotherham had still not grasped the failings in children's services. Credit: PA

The report also said police and social workers were still "ineffective" at working together.

The overall judgement is that children's services are inadequate. In the delivery of services for looked-after children and care leavers these failures result in the welfare of these children not being safeguarded and promoted.

Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.

– Ofsted

The report judged the Local Safeguarding Children Board to be "inadequate", adding:

The arrangements in place to evaluate the effectiveness of what is done by the authority and board partners to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are inadequate.

Findings (of the Jay Report) have led to much activity, but this has been ineffectively coordinated, with insufficient integration of effort - the pace of change has been too slow.

– Ofsted

The report criticised in particular services aimed at protecting children in need of help, saying:

Serious and widespread failures in child protection work mean that children and young people are not adequately protected.

Strategy discussions, including those where children are believed to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, are not compliant with statutory guidance.

This means that key information held by other agencies may not be taken into account, and potential risks to children may not be considered. There is ineffective working between social workers and police officers.

– Ofsted

The publication of Professor Alexis Jay's report in August provoked turmoil in the local authority, leading to a raft of council resignations.

South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, the Rotherham councillor overseeing children's services between 2005 and 2010, was also forced to resign in the wake of the scandal.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday said it was investigating 10 officers over allegations that they failed to deal properly with child sexual exploitation issues in Rotherham.

Ofsted itself was yesterday criticised by the Communities and Local Government Committee over past failures in relation to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The committee said the watchdog carried out a number of inspections of the council over the period covered by the Jay Report but failed to protect children in the town.

Ofsted, who found Rotherham Council's children's services "inadequate" in 2009, said it "welcomes the opportunity to give evidence to the committee".