Tuesday, 17 February 2015

East Riding of Yorkshire Council shields former Rotherham officials

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has "investigated" - emphasis on the quote on quote - the integrity of its Child Protection procedures and standards, publicly incited to do so in the aftermath of the Rotherham abuse case; it reports no concerns, other than an increase in child sexual exploitation cases which it attributes to an increased awareness among professionals and the public, which is indeed a positive. But the ERYC, as noted by Councillor Paul Hogan, has failed to investigate cases of historical child sex abuse; an approach highly out of touch with Britain's advent in seeking to investigate abuses from the past, pioneered by the bravery of survivors and their advocates, and to address the institutional failures and injustices which facilitated them.

The full extent of the abuse in Rotherham became apparent following the publication of the Jay report in 2014, which described the widespread, organised rape, sexual slavery, trafficking and torture of hundreds of children and young people (1,400 as a reserved estimation) in the town by paedophile gangs. The Casey report published this January detailed a culture of institutional bullying and willful ignorance in Rotherham Council that reached the highest levels of the corrupt authority, that was deliberately orchestrated to cover-up its failures in protecting the victims and preventing further abuses, an approach which functionally aided and abetted the perpetrators. Whistleblowers were harassed and intimidated. Computers with research detailing the abuse and council failures had their hard drives wiped. Offices with documents documenting the same were stolen, presumably to be destroyed. South Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency are making inquiries into the conduct of Rotherham Council staff. One of those named in the Jay report was Pam Allen, who since 2009 has been the head of children and young people's support in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council; two other staff members working under Allen also worked at Rotherham.

Despite all of these comprehensively documented malpractices, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has refused to make any inquiries staff members that worked at Rotherham Council, including Pam Allen. Councillor Kerri Harold, the chairperson of the East Riding's CSE investigation, argued that would be "wrong" to make any inquiries into the former Rotherham staff; Councillor Stephen Lane accused the media focus on them as being a "distraction". It would therefore appear that to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the ruination of innumerable lives in Rotherham by mass child abuse, and the involvement of their staff members in the authority that covered it up, is a trivial irrelevancy; the only liability being journalistic and public criticism and concerns about institutional accountability and the welfare of children. It reflects that they would prefer it to be buried in the past.

How can the people of the East Riding of Yorkshire possibly trust their council to protect children and young people from harm if it takes such an apathetic and self-serving approach to considering the legitimacy and competence of its senior child protection staff? This should be a cause for massive concern.

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