IN yet again trying to justify his refusal to resign following the Rotherham child abuse scandal, Shaun Wright says that the damning findings in last week’s report were “not about one person or one organisation” but were instead about “taking a multi-agency approach”.
In other words, the South Yorkshire police commissioner is trotting out the same excuse that has been used to justify every tragic social services failure of the past 20 years, from the death of Victoria Climbie, to the beating, raping and trafficking of teenage girls in Oldham, Rochdale and now Rotherham.
According to this logic, the fault lies in the systems and practices of these councils, not with the failings of individual people who cannot be expected to take responsibility.
Or, to put it another way, in spite of his two years as police and crime commissioner and his previous five years in charge of children’s services in Rotherham at a time when the systematic rape of children was at its height, Mr Wright insists that the failure to tackle it had nothing to do with him.
Incredibly, he also appears to be insisting that he is the best man to lead the fight against continued sexual abuse in Rotherham, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to restore the public’s faith in South Yorkshire Police.
This is in spite of the fact that Mr Wright’s refusal to resign has stripped him of any shred of credibility that he continued to possess and is severely hampering any attempt by the police force to rehabilitate itself following 15 years of failure to stem the tide of child sexual abuse.
Hardly surprising, then, that Sheffield Council yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Wright. Or that a public meeting organised by Rotherham Council was beseiged by members of the public calling not for a “multi-agency approach” but for the resignations of all involved in this wretched failure to protect the children of Rotherham from years of appalling abuse.
Latest atrocity poses severe test
BARACK Obama says that justice will be served on the terrorists who beheaded Steven Sotloff, the second US journalist to be murdered in two weeks by the militant group in Iraq and Syria
who call themselves the Islamic State.
But at the moment it is hard to see what form that justice will take given that, only last week, President Obama admitted that, other than the continued use of limited airstrikes in Iraq, the US did not yet have a strategy for confronting these murderous fanatics at a regional level.
Nor does it appear that there any simple options for the UK Government in its attempts to prevent a British hostage suffering the same fate, as threatened in the video of Mr Sotloff’s murder, or in its efforts to bring to justice the murderer himself, believed to be a British jihadist.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says that Britain will look at every possible option to free the hostage, including mounting a raid by special forces, while also admitting that air strikes might now be considered, in a change to Britain’s previous stance.
However, with every new atrocity committed by this armed group that now occupies large swathes of Iraq and Syria, the inadequacy of the previous response by both Britain and America is further emphasised.
Along with the threat posed by jihadists to this country itself, a threat which prompted David Cameron’s latest anti-terrorism proposals this week, the activities of the Islamic State on the ground are an affront to every value that the civilised world professes to hold and a more robust and effective response is now clearly needed.
New motoring low
Threat to child passenger
JUST when it seemed that the standard of driving on Britain’s roads could get no worse, along comes John Naisbitt who has perhaps set a new low with his disregard not only for the safety of the public but also for his child passenger.
With the young child standing on the front seat of his car – without a seatbelt, of course – Naisbitt careered along A59 in North Yorkshire, while also lighting a cigarette in another display of contempt for the idea of safe driving.
Fortunately, his behaviour was picked up by a mobile safety camera, resulting in a six-month ban from Northallerton magistrates.
But if this case emphasises the value of cameras, it also underlines the need for an actual police presence on the roads, given the tendency for drivers to flout the law in increasingly outrageous ways.