ABUSE files have disappeared from the archives of Rotherham Council, MPs have heard.
Three reports, compiled between 2001 and 2006, have gone missing and have not been seen by senior staff but were used in the Jay Report into 1,400 cases of child sex abuse, outgoing chief executive Martin Kimber said.
The revelation comes a day after it emerged that a children’s charity reported its offices had been raided and files taken, and a researcher intimidated by police, though no police investigation was launched.
Details of the missing files came as children’s services director Joyce Thacker told MPs yesterday that she was prepared to meet and apologise individually to any of those let down by the council though so far she has met only six abuse victims.
Mrs Thacker and Mr Kimber were appearing before the Communities Select Committee a day after MPs on the Home Affairs panel called on Mr Kimber to sack his children’s director.
Mrs Thacker, who has been head of children’s services since 2008 and was deputy head for two years before that, said: “I do accept responsibility for my part on this,” but has refused to step down.
She revealed that the council has some 145 cases of child abuse under investigation, and was prepared to reopen any cases identified in the Jay Report.
The committee was also told that around 38 staff in the children’s services department have faced some type of disciplinary action.
Asked about early reports that should have alerted the council to act, Mr Kimber said “I still have not seen the 2002 report, even though I made extensive inquiries.
“The 2003 report I have never seen at all but I made extensive inquires.
“The 2006 report I saw for the first time on Sunday evening.
“They are not in the council’s archives.”
He added: “As the Jay Report made clear, these reports did not make their way into the council machine, into reports or minutes.”
South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright came under more pressure from the committee over his role as the councillor in charge of the child services department up to 2010.
Mrs Thacker told the MPs that a 2008 report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham was given to Mr Wright when he was the cabinet member responsible for children’s services.
But she said he did not pass it on to the rest of the council’s ruling cabinet.
Asked by MPs if she felt “let down” by Mr Wright, Mrs Thacker said: “I think, with hindsight, yes I am.
“If the report had been given to cabinet it still would not have stopped child sexual exploitation, I’ve made that quite clear.
“But the ownership may have been there for the issue much better across the council than it was.
“It was a difficult period of time.”
Pressed by Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk, Mrs Thacker also said she had personally met around six of the estimated 1,400 abuse victims in Rotherham.
Mr Kimber told the committee he had not met any victims or survivors of abuse.
Mr Danczuk also asked Mrs Thacker repeatedly whether a lack of prosecutions in Rotherham meant that “rapists carried on raping children”.
The director eventually replied: “Rapists seem to have done that, yes.”