Rochdale abuse: Council chief faces MPs’ questions
The boss of a council which was criticised for failing to save girls from a child sex ring is to be called before a Parliamentary committee.
Jim Taylor, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, admitted the authority missed chances to help the youngsters.
A report by Rochdale’s safeguarding children board blamed “deficiencies” among front-line staff.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said he wanted Mr Taylor to answer questions.
He said: “As part of its ongoing inquiry into grooming, the committee will be recalling the chief executive of Rochdale Council to explain why social services missed opportunities to stop the exploitation of vulnerable girls, what is being done to ensure agencies are now working together to keep them safe and how individuals responsible for the failings will be held to account.”
In May, nine men who ran a child sexual exploitation ring in Rochdale were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court after being found guilty of offences including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with girls under the age of 16.
The court heard the group plied five victims with drink and drugs and “passed them around” for sex.
The report – ordered by Rochdale’s safeguarding children’s board – reviews the work of local agencies, including the council, police and the Crown Prosecution Service between 2007 and 2012 in safeguarding children at risk of sexual exploitation.
Using feedback from 23 support staff, it charted the experience of one victim from 2007 to 2010.
It revealed the girl spoke to support workers on several occasions about being abused.
However, the report suggests some child protection services failed to act and the abuse continued.
Mr Taylor said he “deeply regretted” the council’s failing to work with other agencies in safeguarding children.
He said: “This review highlights that all agencies did not work together adequately and it is very clear that, in the past, council services missed opportunities to offer assistance.”
He said he has started an internal independent review which will be published next month.
Colin Lambert, the leader of Rochdale Council, pledged tough action against officials found culpable.
He said: “This has to be our Hillsborough moment, the truth must come out.
“No stone will lay uncovered – people have to be held to account and disciplinary action where necessary will be taken.”
He added: “Each victim has been incredibly brave and their bravery needs to be rewarded by seeing the system changing permanently.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was also criticised in the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children’s Board Review of 2007 and 2012.
Ch Supt Annette Anderson, Divisional Commander for Rochdale, said it “acknowledges its findings” but said “criminals should take ultimate responsibility for their actions”.
She said: “The Independent Police Complaints Commission are currently supervising an investigation into that inquiry so it would be inappropriate for us to go into further details at this moment.
“What we can say is that GMP’s forcewide approach to child sexual exploitation and child abuse in general has changed significantly over the last few years.
“With our partners at the council and the health service, Rochdale division now has formal working strategies to tackle head-on child exploitation.”