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Rotherham’s child abuse was ignored in order to protect careers and retirements

27 August 2014

This is an extract from this week’s Spectator, available tomorrow. Subscribe from just £12 for 12 issues here

If Rotherham council were a family, its children would have been removed by social services long ago, and Ma and Pa Rotherham would be safely behind bars. Professor Alexis Jay’s report, which was published this week, reveals depravity on an industrial scale in the South Yorkshire town. At least 1,400 children, Prof. Jay estimates, were subjected to sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013. Many were raped multiple times by members of gangs whose activities either were or should have been known about. Children were trafficked around the country to be abused. Those who put up resistance were beaten. And when they complained they were treated with contempt by the people who were employed to protect them.

We don’t hold out much hope that anyone in a position of authority will be going to jail, nor even that anyone will lose their pension. Roger Stone OBE, leader of the Labour-run council for the past 11 years, has ‘stepped down’, saying that he would be taking responsibility. There was no mention of the 71-year-old Mr Stone ceding his pension, and neither did he show much in the way of contrition; he seemed to see his resignation as a noble act, falling on his sword so that his minions might continue in employment.

It is always the same with public authorities and scandals relating to children in care. No one is ever to blame, only ‘systems’. There is always room, of course, for these nebulous ‘systems’ to be improved. But there must never be any finger-pointing. If, on rare occasions, people are forced out of their jobs, then an action for unfair dismissal invariably follows.


If Rotherham Council’s social services department does have anything that deserves to be described as a ‘system’, it is a deeply flawed one. How can a child, entrusted to the care of the state, end up being delivered into the arms of abusers, the very thing that children’s services are supposed to be there to prevent? Worse, how can it happen to hundreds of children and still no one act to stop it?

It has been reported that no one in the council felt strong enough to challenge the mainly Asian gangs that perpetrated the abuse for fear of accusations of racism. It’s true that racism, even of the inadvertent kind, has — along with sexism and homophobia — been turned into such a heinous crime in the eyes of public-sector functionaries that many would rather turn a blind eye to child rape than risk such accusations. Rotherham Council’s children’s services last made headlines when it removed three eastern European children from their Ukip-supporting foster parents. One of its functionaries explained it was concerned about Ukip’s opposition to the ‘active promotion of multiculturalism’.

It is a pity that the council was not as concerned about the systematic abuse of the children supposedly under its care. As Colin Brewer explains on page 16, there’s also something inherently fishy about the pseudo-scientific nature of social work and how social workers are trained.

But there is a bigger sickness in Rotherham, and in other councils where similar scandals have taken place: the bias towards secrecy. Wherever children are involved, the default position on the part of public authorities seems to be that they should keep information about their failures under their institutional hats — out of concern, naturally, for the privacy of the children involved. Yes, of course, the privacy of children has to be protected. But often what is really being protected is the privacy of the social workers and other staff involved. The wellbeing of hundreds of children is, in this way, sacrificed in order not to disturb careers and retirements.

Social workers always come into the firing line when scandals involving children come to light — and that is right. But we should not ignore, either, the astonishing failure of the police. The Rotherham scandal is not a historic case which we can pretend would not happen in this day and age: the timescale of the abuse uncovered by Prof. Jay runs from the beginning of Tony Blair’s premiership to last year. It commenced well after the care of children became subject to the much-vaunted ‘multi-agency’ approach, where social workers, police, teachers, doctors and so on are all supposed to work together. Echoing what happened in Rochdale, the Jay report finds that police treated victims ‘with contempt’.

We are in the middle of an investigation into sexual exploitation of children and adults by celebrities and other public figures dating back more than 50 years. Some of this is certainly genuine; some of it may be moral panic. But one thing is for sure. The allegations of historic groping that we read about on a weekly basis are dwarfed by the kinds of scandals we have seen in Rochdale and Rotherham — scandals which, besides being of a graver nature and on a worse scale, are happening beneath our noses, in the present. There will be no drawing a line under them until all those who let this happen have been held to account.

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  • evad666

    Has anyone petitioned the EU to make the extent of this problem public?

  • Mike

    Its perverse that the very fear of a SS worker, Plod or the CPS being called racist in Rotherham Council allowed these depraved men to commit the racially motivate hate crimes they claimed to stop.

    In Rotherham, whilst the SS used racial criteria in denying a Ukip couple from fostering vulnerable ethnic children, at the same time Joyce Thacker presided over a department that encouraged racism in the community. Sharon Shoesmiths dereliction of duty pales into insignificance compared to Joyce Thacker !

  • evad666
  • MikeF

    If this is true then what was happening was not just ignored but information about it was suppressed as an act of deliberate policy:
    Arrests and prosecutions must follow.

  • Bonkim

    Not just in Rotherham – the Local Authority hierarchy is adept at safeguarding their jobs and gold plated pensions. Elected councillors have lost the knack of setting political direction and monitoring performance/failing in their duty, often colluding with management.

  • rockylives

    Silly billies!

    Don’t you know it’s nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It’s the fault of the rich.

    At least that’s what someone called Suzanne Moore says in The Grauniad…

    Apparently it’s all about rich people exploiting poor children. Karl Marx would be proud.

    They’re keeping the red flag flying over at Guardian Towers!

  • Alexandrovich

    For something to lower our blood pressure a tad, I recommend Have a look at Eamonn Holmes ripping into the Chief of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan, with
    barely concealed contempt. One also wonders why the man, given the allegations against him, was even considered for the post.

    • Rik

      Thank you for the link sadly Holmes is doomed he had the sheer effrontery to try and insist on an answer to a question rather than accept the usual pap dished out by the talking heads,such courage is only too rare

    • edithgrove

      so Barnado’s is a dead loss then

      • Alexandrovich

        So is Victim Support, of which he was the CEO before moving on to Barnardo’s.

        • Mike

          Ahh, he’s one of those that jumps ship for a even better paid job before he’s caught out at being a useless piece of slime

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Saw it on YouTube.

    • Mike

      Javed Khan is part of the problem just like every other low life piece of s*** who is trying to wriggle out of any culpability. Good job Eamon, at least you tore into this apologist but as he’s CEO of Barnardos, what chance do our kids have. Nearly as bad as putting a fox in charge of the hen house !

  • unknownknowns

    When Civil Servants, and publicly appointed employees, are found to be making decisions based on their own political bias; it’s time for a reboot of the entire system!

    These people work for us, and on our behalf, if they can’t do the jobs they are employed to do then offer them positions somewhere else, maybe helping out with the Ebola problem in Africa.

    I don’t want to hear “Lessons will be learned”, I want those who failed to know that failure was not an option in the first place!

  • The_greyhound

    At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to remind people that Rotherham’s Executive Director Children and Young Peoples’ Services, Joyce Thacker O.B.E. achieved national fame in 2012 for removing children from foster carers, because the couple had UKIP literature in the house. Oddly, neither newspapers nor weeklies seem to be connecting the two stories.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, it would be critical to a proper reporting to see these events properly juxtaposed.

      Which means we’ll never see the Speccie teenagers doing so, obviously.

  • John Cronin

    why is my comment consistently deleted?

  • Blindsideflanker

    If Channel 4 news headlines are anything to go by with Jon Snow calling it a rotten borough , we might just get one news channel willing to put the boot in.

    • Alexsandr

      yes but he wont put the boot in where it belongs. the appalling labour party.

  • HenryWood

    From 2004, read it and weep …

    And today, no one knew anything.

    • 70sgirly

      God that is shocking and 10 years later the lying ba****ds are all saying, no, not me guv. They were all complicit in the abuse as far as I’m concerned.

    • edithgrove

      Does that mean those responsible are on film or in the filmmakers unused footage?

  • Suzy61

    The Guardian?
    What does it mean to be ginger?

    • TheUntalentedRiply

      If you’re 14, female and living in Rotherham, it would appear that being ginger would make you (a) fair game and (b) completely ignored by left-wing incompetent mutli-cultural loving social workers.

  • Suzy61

    Top story at the Independent?
    House prices in London.

    • TheUntalentedRiply

      Tsk. Surely their top story should have been about the numerous benefits of multiculturalism…

  • evad666

    What a joy to hear the illustrious Mrs Balls Alias Ms Cooper spouting her hypocritical nonsense.
    Remember Lessons must be learned is code for, “Oh do be quiet you silly little people. We the elite know what is happening and know whats good for you.”
    Musn’t enquire too closely if the responsible community will change after all we need their Votes more than we need yours.

  • Damaris Tighe

    “How can a child, entrusted to the state, end up being delivered into the arms of abusers”: the answer can be found in ‘Generation F’ by Winston Smith, a social worker & whistle blower. If a child wishes to walk out of a children’s home they cannot now be stopped – it’s a breach of their ‘rights’. Another piece of counter-intuitive leftist nonsense to add to all the others absolutely destroying our society. This, btw, in response to the physical abuse suffered by children in such homes in the past – by replacing it with the abuse called NEGLECT.

  • Tron

    Nick Griffin was arrested for talking about this 10 years ago.
    Why are the BBC pretending they didn’t know about it?
    They were the ones who recorded him.

    • unknownknowns

      So given the unprecedented access to Bradford social services, did the filmmakers use it responsibly?

      Or did they produce a film that, as its critics would have it, provided ammunition to racists?

      And when the narrator says that young Pakistani drugs gangs are beyond the control of “community elders”, are we being told this entire community should be considered guilty of neglect?~

      These, above, from an review written the day after the original showing of ‘Edge of the City’ on Channel 4.

      It looks to me that the BBC were fully aware of these on goings, as were many others, but elected not to dwell upon them.

      What seems to be needed here, and on many other issues too, is for someone to investigate not the actual criminal acts involved in this instance but to investigate just who knew what, when they knew it and what their reason was for not sharing that knowledge!

      There appears to be some non-disclosure nonsense in action here, and the only verbal diarrhea we get is: “We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused” and “Lessons will be learned”.

      What a mess our country is in if we just accept these statements and move on!

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        Why so few calls for prosecution of leaders and responsible officials in what they now admit is a dysfunctional council and local authority? The only “lesson that will be learned” is the one that involves doing the time for the crime.

  • zanzamander

    Over at the Telegraph, Dan Hodges has this to say:

    The children of Rotherham were abused racially, as well as sexually,
    physically and psychologically. We don’t just have a right to say that,
    we have an obligation.

    Which is spot on.

    • zanzamander

      Mind you, when he says “we have a right to say that”, he doesn’t mean anywhere on his blog because he’s closed the shop on comments.

      Still good of him to say some home truths.

  • Blindsideflanker

    More likely it was ignored because Pakistani Community leaders could deliver several thousand votes for Labour.

    • you_kid

      Oh look, you too have given up on your country.
      Not only do you vote like sheeple, it is your free indigenous English will to create a state within a state, a one party state. It comes naturally to you – you cannot be discouraged not to do so, you have a natural desire for a one party state. Since the Monarch and then the local nobleman failed to deliver, you now just vote for a Labour one party state. Easy, not much changed. You need this kind of complete lack of interest and control to be happy. You don’t care until you are told by others that something went wrong. You did not know it acutally occured when it occured? That’s what the fascists used as an excuse back then, exactly the same excuse.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …well, you socialist nutters certainly know all about fascism, lad.

        How’s the goat?

        • Bob Hasell

          The labour party are now the fascist party of british politics.. “Lessons must be learnt.” the usual mantra Spat out by Mrs Harmen on Newsnight last night, Speaking on the Blatant hypocrisy by them in letting down the children of Rotherham.. Thats double talk for Nothing to see here!! Labour Are not listening!!!

          • Mike

            She of the Pedophile Information Exchange advocates, my, my, she actually said that lame worn out socialist line of “lessons must be learnt”.

            She hasn’t learned anything since she represented those pedos many years ago !

      • Blindsideflanker

        In English please.

        • you_kid

          Ah yes, the tiresome bog-standard riposte of those fascist enablers lost for words. Enjoy your one party state communities, you deserve every single one of them.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …we must deserve your army of sockpuppets too, eh laddie?

          • Blindsideflanker

            No I just cannot make sense of your response.

            What are you going on about me giving up on our country, when I was posting about Labour’s attachment to identity politics that could bring tribal block votes to them, which if there is any debasement our country’s democratic values it is that.

            And your post gets more confusing and convoluted from there.

            • you_kid

              Tribal block votes. What’s that? You are making all this up aren’t you, to divert from the simple fact that you have given up to hold your own beliefs. You just tell us what other ‘tribes’ supposedly believe.

              Was that English enough for you?

            • Mike

              It gets demented more like, this guy needs sectioning !

      • Gary

        “you cannot be discouraged not to do so”


  • zanzamander

    And if Professor Alexis Jay was a government minister, he’d be demoted or sacked, as good Mr Gove found out.

  • ButcombeMan


    Are you still at the same obfuscation game?

    Spell it out.

    Even the BBC has now described the perpetrators as of “Pakistani heritage”.

    We and the communities involved need to be brutally frank or nothing will change.

    • Alexsandr

      This is dead right. Non Pakistani asians are upset at people describing these animals as asians

      • evad666
        • Mike

          I love the line “A culture where the clan (Biraderi) leaders effectively abuse religion and family ties to enrich themselves”.

          Sounds like yet another deflection tactic to make the guilty look innocent as abuse in that culture trumps abuse on underage young white girls.

          Bottom line, I don’t give a f*** what abuses they want to commit in their own community as long as it stays there. They have their own Sharia law to deal with it so whats the problem. When those in their community decide enough is enough, they can leave that culture, move out and join the 21st century where everyone is equal.

    • Mike

      I bet they choke on it every time they mention that race !

  • Earlshill

    Not quite right. The child abuse was ignored because all those in the management structure knew that it could be. Why make waves in a bureaucracy when conformism is the only behaviour which is rewarded? Local government aka the state does not “safeguard” children; it does the opposite. It exposes vulnerable children to all manner of adults involved in the educational and social work fields. Few of those adults are motivated to do the best in the individual child’s interest. Far more are simply executing a series of processes which they are not allowed to challenge.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, Mid Staffs gave them their example. If thousands of dead can be
      simply waved away, then what’s a few thousand child s e x slaves? Nothing
      to see here, obviously.

      It’s amusing, but sad, how the Speccie children are complicit with the comprehensive rollout of this tragedy, finally. The cover story has been long settled, the articles written, the government’s apologias and PR memes well practiced… and then the miserable plebs get to see the report, finally, after the proper misdirection and spin is prepared.


      • the viceroy’s gin

        It’s a full spectrum effort the Speccie is participating in. Well done, kids. You’ve played your part, and done what you’re told. Well done

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of the acquisition of public sector pensions and the Labour vote.

        • Alexsandr

          I rather think the labour vote will be quite small in Rotherham after this. Remember UKIP won 10 out of 21 seats in the may council elections. I hope other labour voters will now see they are quite unfit to govern

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, this is a time for UKIP to step back, take a deep breath, and wait for the electorate to make the required turn on these matters. Let the People lead, which they surely will.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            We must sincerely hope that UKIP eject Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

  • Lidlscanner

    And if the UK were a family, children and parents would be told to die, convert or pay tax – but that must be the next page …

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