Senior officers of Rochdale Council turned a blind eye to child sex abuse
Date published: 24 May 2013
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An independent report into child sexual exploitation in Rochdale has concluded that senior officers of Rochdale Council turned a blind eye to child sex abuse.
The report revealed that the former chief executive, Roger Ellis, “did not appear to be interested in children’s social care issues” and that there was no evidence that Mr Ellis had any intention of investigating the events that led to high profile child sexual abuse cases coming to court.
MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, has called for Roger Ellis to pay back his enormous pension fund, and he said it was wrong that Mr Ellis had been "allowed to escape disciplinary action by taking early retirement".
The report identified: "A lack of consistent senior leadership, or a lack of vision and direction in relation to child sexual exploitation."
Jim Taylor, who succeeded Roger Ellis as Chief Executive of Rochdale Borough Council, has acknowledged the child victims who were sexually exploited were let down by Rochdale Council; though he did not take them the helm until long after the abuse took place he has apologised.
“It is clear from this review that some children were let down by Rochdale Council. On behalf of the council, I am deeply sorry these young people did not get the care and support they deserved," he said.
Published today, Friday 24 May, the report follows an independent review of the council’s internal processes and procedures. It was commissioned by Mr Taylor in June 2012 following the conviction of nine men from Rochdale and Oldham for grooming offences.
The review, carried out by AKA Limited, involved face-to-face interviews with past and present members of staff and an examination of the authority’s children’s services, licensing and legal departments.
Mr Taylor added: “We must never forget that the sexual exploitation of children is an appalling crime carried out by the worst kind of criminals. But keeping children safe from harm is the most important thing a local authority does, and we accept the conclusions and recommendations in the report.
“This review paints a poor picture of the way elements of Rochdale Council has previously been run. Hard-working, dedicated staff were also let down by some senior managers who appear to have shown no leadership and taken no responsibility. I am absolutely determined to ensure these mistakes are never repeated. We have given a copy of this report to the Health and Care Professionals Council, the industry regulator, and directly referred some individuals named in this report to them.
“I commissioned this independent review to shine a light on what went wrong so we could learn lessons for the future. But we have not waited for this report to get on with the job of putting in place the changes required to better protect the children and young people of our borough.
“Since the review was commissioned a new interim management team has overhauled the children’s services department and made substantial improvements that have been recognised both in this report and in the Ofsted inspection last December. Our licensing team is now seen as a standard setter in the North West, and we have rolled out a huge programme of child sexual exploitation awareness training in our schools and workplaces.
“The council has been prepared to learn some uncomfortable lessons in order to ensure our children and young people are kept safe from harm. We cannot stamp out the vile instincts of the people who carry out these awful acts. But we can make sure our own house is in order, and we are doing precisely that.
“Since becoming chief executive last year I have been hugely impressed by the professionalism and dedication of our staff. It was clear that changes to processes and procedures were needed, and now we have done that I am confident we have a service that is in a much better position to safeguard children. The vast majority of the recommendations made in the independent report have already been implemented.”
RMBC Chief Executive Jim Taylor speaking about the independent report into child sexual exploitation in Rochdale
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