Response to Independent Investigations Reports
- Statement from Rotherham Council Commissioners following the publication of the independent investigations reports (You are here)
- Response from Rotherham Council Leader, Cllr Chris Read, following the publication of the independent investigations reports
Statement from Rotherham Council Commissioners following the publication of the independent investigations reports
Prior to the appointment of Commissioners, the Council put in place arrangements for independent investigations into various aspects of the Council's failures regarding child sexual exploitation (CSE) and its wider governance. The aim was to explore more fully what had gone wrong and why in order to identify the lessons to be learned for the future and to ensure that staff were held to account for any negligence or failings. We understand the importance of this to victims, survivors and their families who have suffered much and deserve as full an explanation as can be given.
It is the view of Commissioners that the six investigation reports now received provide important additional information and understanding in this regard. We are however, disappointed that a number of ex-senior officers did not contribute fully to these investigations.
Given the complexity of the matters involved, the passage of time, the multiple changes in post holders, working arrangements and the legal framework over the period covered, it is perhaps inevitable that greater clarity could not be achieved on some issues. In particular, there will be some understandable concern that accountability for failure has not been sufficiently attributed to individuals but has been found to be widespread and systemic.
Whilst we agree that the failure was widespread and involved failings and missed opportunities on the part of a number of staff across the Council and other agencies, we also consider that in general we would expect the Council's appropriate statutory officers, in this case the relevant Chief Executives and Directors of Children's Services, over the period to take responsibility for those systemic failings within the Council.
It is the nature of public service that relevant statutory officers are responsible for the good stewardship of the Council on their watch. The investigation reports tell a story of an organisation struggling to deal with the complex issues of CSE, but in our view and crucially, in a context where, in the main, successive Chief Executives and Directors of Children's Services were seemingly unable to provide the leadership and tenacity needed to secure the safety and wellbeing of the children of Rotherham.
The Council has now made progress across the organisation and in particular in Children's Social Care to ensure that improvements are put in place and that the children and young people of Rotherham are kept safe. These reports provide valuable further learning on which the Council needs to reflect and make sure that lessons are learned across the organisation at both member and officer level and amongst its partners. We are encouraged that the Council has the building blocks and the will to achieve that and that its new leadership will be tenacious and ever observant in avoiding future failings.
Lead Commissioner, Rotherham MBC