Austin Macauley 25 August 2015

Rotherham to remain under Government control until 2019

The Government has said it is likely to take four years until full powers are returned to Rotherham Council following intervention after a sexual abuse scandal emerged in 2014.

It is also planning to launch new measures designed to ensure 'there can be no cover-ups' across local government.

Phased return of council functions are expected to take place between now and March 2019, it said, with the improvement board – installed by ministers last year – remaining in place.

In its response to the communities and local government select committee's report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, it said: 'All functions are expected to be returned to the council within four years. The terms of the intervention will remain in force until 31 March 2019, unless amended or revoked at an earlier date.'

It added: 'Rotherham’s successful return to full democratic control will be rooted in the improvements and assurance processes of the intervention itself.'

The Government will also publish new guidance to local authorities and other organisations with safeguarding responsibilities amid fears that failures at Rotherham Council are indicative of widespread problems with local government scrutiny.

This will include 'a new expectation that all organisations that have safeguarding responsibilities must have internal whistleblowing policies in place, which are then integrated into training and codes of conduct'.

It added: 'This will improve how organisations manage whistle blowing cases so there can be no cover-ups.'

A new national single point of contact will be created for child abuse-related whistleblowing reports to ensure all professionals can raise concerns about how their organisation is protecting children from the risk of abuse. This will be used to 'spot patterns of failure across the country and link to the new joint area inspections where there are concerns'.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles had formally intervened at the council following the publication of Professor Alexis Jay’s report into child sexual abuse in the region, which estimated at least 1,400 girls were sexually abused between 1997 and 2013.

The independent inquiry found Rotherham MBC failed in its duty to protect some of the most vulnerable children in the borough, with 'collective failures of political and officer leadership’.

The scandal led to mass resignation at the council, with its leader and entire cabinet pledging to quit.

Visit The MJ (£) to read their interview with Sir Derek Myers on 'progress' in Rotherham.

Photo: ©JThomas

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