Rochdale MP: Child safeguarding failures ‘not unique’ to Rotherham

Rochdale MP: Child safeguarding failures ‘not unique’ to Rotherham

The communities and local government select committee – of which Simon Danczuk is a member – has drawn the ‘alarming conclusion’ that Rotherham is no exception, suggesting child sexual exploitation is ‘widespread’ across England.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk

Safeguarding failures at Rotherham council are likely to be far from unique, MPs have warned – while raising particular concerns about authorities ‘dominated’ by one political party.
The communities and local government select committee has drawn the ‘alarming conclusion’ that Rotherham is no exception, suggesting child sexual exploitation is ‘widespread’ across England.
MPs have spent the past few months taking evidence in the wake of the Jay report, which exposed 1,400 cases of child abuse in the Yorkshire town had gone ignored by the authorities.
Their report, out today, warns that councils across the country do not have strong enough scrutiny processes in place.
It notes ‘inadequate’ reports prepared by senior officers in Rotherham – but also warns of a ‘lack of challenge’ by senior councillors, suggesting they do not have the training or expertise required. That is likely to be the case elsewhere too, it says.
The conclusions come after Manchester council’s child scrutiny committee reacted with horror in September to a damning safeguarding report by Ofsted.
Councillors vowed the city would not become ‘another Rotherham’ after the inspectorate found a backlog of 500 child protection cases.
The town hall’s children’s services director, Mike Livingstone, resigned after pressure from members a few weeks later and the council has since been served with an improvement notice.
All of Manchester’s councillors but one is Labour, a problem dubbed ‘single party supremacy’ in the report. Such a situation makes effective scrutiny all the more essential, it argues.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, whose own council has previously been criticised for failures in its handling of child sexual exploitation, is on the panel.
He said he did not believe Rotherham was ‘unique in its poor approach’ to the issue.
“In my own constituency of Rochdale the overview and scrutiny committee failed to get to grips with a child abuse scandal and council officers were only held to account through parliament, when they were called before the home affairs select committee,” he said.
“Councillors need to shine a harsh light on children’s services if they’re going to address failings before it’s too late. At the moment I’m not convinced this is happening.”

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