Sarah's statement on the two Ofsted reports
Today's Ofsted reports the first into Rotherham children's services, and the second into the approach of local authorities across to the country in dealing with child protection make disturbing reading. In Rotherham, the services provided by the local authority to protect children have been deemed inadequate. Serious and widespread failings in child protection were cited, including a lack of challenging and scrutiny by senior figures, a lack of leadership and accountability for children's services, and senior managers lacking sufficient oversight of services. The failings have been so severe that Rotherham services have not been deemed to meet their statutory duties.
Children have been seriously let down in Rotherham, and for that, the council must not only apologise but must swiftly take steps to rectify this. To restore faith, the Council needs to put into place procedures, oversight, and accountability that ensures children in Rotherham are protected now, and into the future. This must be done as a matter of urgency, and I will be pressuring the council to ensure they show strong leadership where they have failed in the past. Children best interests must be at the heart of all their decisions. It is vital that our children are kept safe by the very people we entrust with their care and protection.
The suffering endured by victims in Rotherham, however, is just the tip of the iceberg as Ofsted's report into local authorities shows. Many more children are being let down by authorities across the country, often because authorities have not faced up to their responsibilities, or have not implemented the statutory guidance on child protection.
We don't need endless inquiries now. We need the recommendations of both Professor Jay's report and of Ofsted's reports to be implemented. Government and statutory agencies need to recognise that child sexual exploitation is a national issue that is occurring in all communities. They cannot turn a blind eye to it any longer. Professionals working in the field must apply proper child protection processes to children being groomed, to make sure the exploitation doesn't escalate. The Local Safeguarding Children's Boards must give strong regional leadership and make sure that they do not accept data on face value. It is vital that agencies share data, collect data consistently and then use it. I also urge the police user lesser offences early in the grooming process to prosecute before a child has been abused.
I find it appalling that a lack of leadership on this issue has been seen in local authorities across the country. Local authorities have a duty to safeguard our children, but by failing to apply proper child protection procedures, they are allowing the suffering of child victims to continue. It is not right that vulnerable victims should be let down in this way, by people they should be able to trust to protect them.
Whilst I accept that these reports were necessary in order to identify the specific failings in Rotherham and across the country, I feel hugely frustrated that we are seeing inquiry after inquiry; report after report. What we need now more than anything is a change of culture that puts the protection and needs of children and young people at the heart of all actions the professionals take. Only this will ensure that children will never again suffer such shocking exploitation as has been seen in Rotherham.
For more information contact:
Dawn Elliott, Research Manager to Sarah Champion MP, Email:┬á email@example.com