The Yorkshire Post Says: Rotherham 'cock up' does not do justice to one of the biggest scandals in council history

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IT would be churlish not to acknowledge the progress that Rotherham Council continues to make after the borough’s reputation was so besmirched by the child sex grooming scandal.

The latest raft of reports offer encouragement offering a level of transparency which remains essential to the authority regaining, and retaining, the trust of residents and, more importantly, the abuse victims betrayed by a pernicious culture of political correctness.

That said, there will be deep unease that procedures were so lackadaisical that child abuse files were likely to have been stolen from a council office in 2002 and that “no culpable behaviour” has been found which could justify “legal action or regulatory involvement” against senior officials at the time.

The almost blasé conclusion – “it was more cock-up than conspiracy” – does not do sufficient justice to one of the biggest controversies in local government history after it emerged that 1,400 victims were abused over a 16-year period – largely by men of a Pakistani-heritage background.

As for the crassly insensitive phraseology, used in this context, that in itself is unforgivable.

Yet, while these reports identify lessons for every safeguarding body in the country, it also highlights the issue of public accountability and the importance of electing councillors who genuinely care, stand up for their constituents and pose the questions that were not asked at the time. Town halls are only as good as their public representatives.

Rotherham Council leader Chris Read writes: the town has come a long way since abuse scandal
And then there is the issue of race. While it’s paramount that the likes of Rotherham MP Sarah Champion continue to be brave and use challenging language that gets to the root of these problems, there will, nevertheless, be others who will use this sorry saga to stoke race-hate divisions.

That cannot be allowed to happen – the over-riding priority remains the need to ensure victims receive sufficient support as they face up to a lifetime of torment because their cries for help went unheard until relatively recently.