Abuse row commissioner ‘casts shadow over force and must go’

EXCLUSIVE: The former deputy commissioner at South Yorkshire Police urged her controversial boss to step down saying he “casts a shadow” over the force, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

PCC Shaun Wright
PCC Shaun Wright

In a day of shame for the crisis-hit force, former commissioner Tracey Cheetham criticised Shaun Wright’s refusal to step down.

It comes as South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton was hauled before MPs for his force’s appalling handling of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

Mr Crompton revealed there were new multiple-abuser investigations ongoing at the force and that 12 new victims had come forward since a report last month revealed authorities ignored 1,400 cases of child abuse by mostly Asian men for decades.

Part of the letter

Despite the new focus on addressing those complaints, Mr Crompton has revealed he has asked for an outside force to investigate its handling of historic abuse claims.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in the House of Commons yesterday that South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council are guilty of a “complete dereliction of duty” after concerns over political correctness prevented officials tackling abuse.

While the chief constable sought to reassure the public that changes were going to be made, his police commissioner was still clinging on to his job.

The Yorkshire Post can today reveal the resignation letter sent by Ms Cheetam when she decided to step down.

In it she made an emotional demand for Mr Wright to admit it was wrong for him to remain in his role given that as Rotherham Council’s former lead member for child safety he has clearly failed hundreds of children.

Mr Wright has announced he has left the Labour party but refused so far to step down from his £85,000 post.

“I genuinely cannot understand your insistence on remaining in post,” the former deputy commissioner said.

She adds: “I cannot be clearer - it is absolutely my belief that your position is untenable.

“Your refusal to stand down places unacceptable pressure on those of us who have no historic links to events in Rotherham and casts a shadow over everyone who works with the police and crime commissioner.”

The Labour party yesterday announced it was suspending four Rochdale councillors as it tried to distance itself from the scandal.

Prime Minister David Cameron has repeated his belief that the commissioner should step down. He said: “The reason he should is because was responsible for children’s services at a critical time in this whole appalling episode.

“The point of Police and Crime Commissioners is to give the public one person they can go to, to call the police service in their local area to account. And I think that is an improvement from the old days of police authorities when no one really knew who they were or what they did.”

Mr Cameron added that he had ordered a wider look at what the Rotheram abuse report revealed.

“I’ve asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to get together with her colleagues Nicky Morgan Eric Pickles and make sure we come together and learn lessons of anything that needs to be done really rapidly to address this situation in Rotherham and, indeed, in other places. I suspect what it’s going to require is a change in culture in policing.”

Today councillors Sheffield, the biggest local authority in Mr Wright’s area, unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in him.

Mr Wright issued a statement before the Sheffield vote which said: “The findings of Prof Jay’s report are not about one person or one organisation.

“These findings are about taking a multi-agency approach to dealing with bringing the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice.

“I’ve had many messages of support, many of which are from partners, encouraging me to remain and to continue my work on prioritising and tackling the extremely important issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE). I’m sure that all partners involved in tackling this issue will work with me to do just that for the sake of past victims and for the sake of safeguarding potential future victims.”