The leader of Rotherham Council has resigned following the results of a report which found that at least 1,400 children were victims of ‘appalling’ sexual exploitation in the town during a sixteen year period.
The report details the ‘blatant’ collective failures during most of Roger Stone’s leadership. Professor Alexis Jay, a former senior social worker who wrote the latest report, described how children had been ‘set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone’. The report suggests that Rotherman Council and the police knew about the level of exploitation but did not act.
Jay suggested senior managers had ‘underplayed’ the scale of the abuse, which occurred between 1997 and 2013. The inquiry team said that senior figures in the police and in the social care system thought the extent of the abuse was being ‘exaggerated’. Jay said ‘the authorities involved have a great deal to answer for’.
The report also stated that the majority of the perpetrators of the abuse were described as being ‘Asian’ by the victims. The report went onto say that ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so’.
The inquiry, published today, was announced last September by Stone. Discussing his resignation, Stone said: ‘Like any right-minded person, I am disgusted by child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abhor the lifelong damage that it wreaks upon the lives of all those affected by it. It is a matter of great regret for me, as it is for many others, that so many people have been traumatised by CSE here in Rotherham.
‘However, having considered the report, I believe it is only right that I, as Leader, take responsibility on behalf of the Council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report and it is my intention to do so.’