Prime Minister says cash could be provided to help victims of child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham,

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron says cash could be provided to help the victims of Rotherham’s child sexual exploitation scandal.

Mr Cameron made his pledge following the publication of the damning report on the findings of a Government-ordered inspection of Rotherham Council, which declared the authority not fit for purpose.

The scathing report, which looked at the grooming, rape and trafficking of hundreds of children, led to the entire political leadership of the local authority resigning.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to replace the council’s cabinet with Government appointed commissioners.

Commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Cameron said: “I’m glad we’ve acted swiftly to remove a council that, frankly, was not doing its job properly.

“The Casey Report is incredibly hard-hitting and damning so we need a new team in there straightaway to run things, to sort it out, to make sure the lessons are learnt and, of course, to help the victims.”

Asked about what cash would be provided for the victims of the scandal, the Prime Minister said: “Let’s not pretend this was all a problem of money. It was mismanagement, political correctness, bullying, sexism - all sorts of problems highlighted in the Casey Report.

“Of course if resources are needed they must be provided but this is not a failure of resources, it was a failure of leadership, of management and much else besides.

“If the money is needed, the money will be provided. But let’s not pretend that these appalling abuses that took place and this appalling grooming and child sexual exploitation was all about money, it wasn’t.”

But today Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, said she’d asked Mr Cameron for money six months ago and none had been forthcoming.

She tweeted: “Hmmm, Cameron confirms resources to help #Rotherham survivors but met him on Weds as been asking for 6mths and nothing.”

Jan Ormondroyd, who was appointed as Rotherham Council’s interim chief executive last year when the previous post holder stood down amid the scandal, said: “What Rotherham needs now is a move towards stability, a clear way forward and the fresh start which Louise Casey and her team have called for.”

“We understand the impact of the current uncertainties around the future leadership and management of the council on the people of Rotherham, and also on staff in the council.

“I have written to the Department for Communities and Local Government, urging them to confirm urgently who the five commissioners who will take over the running of the council will be and to ensure they are in place as soon as possible.”

She said the council had accepted the report’s finding of a ‘catalogue of cultural and system failings’ and accepted that it ‘could and should have done more in the past’.

“We apologise for the devastating impact that this has had on the lives of the people of Rotherham,” she added.

“Given the scale of change which the council is now facing, it is inevitable that there will be questions that people will have that we can’t answer immediately.

“However, we are committed to sharing information and providing clarity as soon as we can.

“In the meantime, the people of Rotherham will not see any disruption to the way in which we deliver our day-to-day services for citizens.”

The Casey Report was ordered following the publication of a report by Professor Alexis Jay last year, which suggested 1,400 children had been subjected to rape, violence and trafficking by gangs of mainly Asian men between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.

Labour councillor Chris Read acknowledged that there had been a ‘culture of denial’ in the council but said the attitude was changing.

“When the information came forward people found it really hard to believe that young women were being taken away by these grooming gangs and were being exploited and raped,” he said.

“I don’t think, hand on heart, anybody set out to cover up abuse - deliberately to do that - but clearly things went very badly wrong along the way.”

“We accept that report, we acknowledge those failings and we are determined to try to move the council forward.”