James Forsyth

Rotherham urgently needs a chance to recalibrate its moral compass

Rotherham urgently needs a chance to recalibrate its moral compass
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One would have thought that it was impossible for the Rotherham sex abuse story to become even more depressing. But it has. The Times, which has led the way in exposing this scandal, alleges that a police office and two councillors have been accused of having sex with the victims of this terrible scandal. The newspaper claims that one of the councillors involved is still serving.

If this was not grim enough, the Casey report into Rotherham Council, published today, reveals a council that still won’t accept what has happened. Casey warns Rotherham Council is:

‘In denial. They denied that there had been a problem, or if there had been, that it was as big as was said. If there was a problem they certainly were not told – it was someone else’s job. They were no worse than anyone else. They had won awards. The media were out to get them.’

What makes Rotherham worse than other incidents of child sexual exploitation is, as Casey writes that, ‘Rotherham is different in that it was repeatedly told by its own youth service what was happening and it chose, not only to not act, but to close that service down.’ The institutional failings exposed are jaw-dropping. Rotherham is about as rotten a borough as you can get. Run for so long as a one party fiefdom, the council appears to have lost its moral compass.

Eric Pickles has announced that government commissioners are to be sent in to take charge with elections to the council to take place next year. A statement released shortly before Pickles' plan was outlined announced the resignation of Rotherham's Council cabinet. In August last year, The Spectator's leader suggested a child abuse scandal on this scale demanded more than just the council leader's resignation. As is becoming clear, Rotherham urgently needs a fresh start.