The scandal of Rotherham’s 1400 children, abused for years by a Muslim gang, has caused wider damage to the whole community.
According to reports from local papers, the ramifications of investigations into how the South Yorkshire town’s council and police force failed to act to protect children in its care have been significant.
One report said that, in a break with tradition, the Rotherham District Scouts group has withdrawn its stand and will no longer give out programmes at the two-day Rotherham show, over fears for child safety.
Elsewhere, a girl who suffered abuse told Doncaster today newspaper that she had no confidence in Rotherham’s officials to bring people to justice, investigate the abuse properly and prevent it from happening again.
The scandal broke after a damning report cited institutional failure at the heart of the social services and police forces, that allowed the abuse to go on for almost two decades.
Spokesmen for the local Muslim communities have condemned the actions of the gang as ‘un-Muslim’ and have disowned the men, but politicians are calling for heads to roll in the organisations that should have protected these children in care.
In Parliament, front and backbenchers of all parties called for the resignation of Shaun Wright, police and crime commissioner, who had been the Labour cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Rotherham council during 2005–2010.
It has emerged that Mr Wright had, at the time, received three reports about widespread abuse but failed to act, according to Prof. Alexis Jay’s report.
Speaking to the BBC, a Labour party spokesman said, ‘The report into child abuse in Rotherham was devastating in its findings. Vulnerable children were repeatedly abused and then let down. In the light of this report, it is appropriate that South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright should step down’.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Wright said, ‘I am very sorry for any abuse that took place. If I could have prevented it I would. This is a top priority for South Yorkshire police. I take my share of the responsibility’. However, it was only after continued pressure for his resignation that he finally decided to quit his post as commissioner, on 16 September.
A criminology specialist from the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University claimed that, too often, denial becomes part of an organisation’s ‘culture and practices’.
The spokesman said, ‘The only way to prevent future generations of victims is to open our eyes as citizens and professionals and become much more challenging of our own and other people’s behaviour around vulnerable young people.
‘Only when we accept collective responsibility for the wellbeing of vulnerable young people will we stop denying and begin tackling abuse and exploitation’.