Council calls for police chief to resign now

South Yorks Police Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright
South Yorks Police Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright

Sheffield City Council was united yesterday (Wednesday) in calling for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright to stand down immediately in the wake of the Rotherham child sex scandal.

His position “is now untenable and he no longer has the confidence of the public”, said the authority.

Mr Wright, elected as Labour’s candidate for local police commissioner in November 2012, has said he intends to see out his term of office over the next two years. He says the £1.5m cost of a by-election could be ‘better spent on investigating child sexual exploitation’. “I think I am the best man to take things forward with my knowledge and expertise.”

But there was cross-party support at Sheffield Town Hall for him to go.

Labour council leader Julie Dore said: “It is clear that the vast majority of people in South Yorkshire no longer have confidence in him to carry out the role and I believe that this makes his position untenble.”

Deputy leader Harry Harpham said: ‘No matter where you talk to people, at the bus stop, the pub, anybody has no confidence whatsoever in Shaun Wright.”

Coun Colin Ross, leader of local Liberal Democrats, said he had pushed hard for a vote of ‘no confidence’.

He said it “sends a clear message – Shaun Wright needs to resign, for the good of South Yorkshire”.

As their colleagues in Rotherham discussed the scandal, Sheffield is to urge the Government to rectify the “unacceptable position” that any agency or public group cannot remove a police and crime commissioner from their post.

City councillors formally recorded their “horror and disgust” at the extent and nature of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham described in the report by Prof Alexis Jay, and pledged to use her assessment to learn any lessons for improvements to the Sheffield service. An assessment will be produced in around two months.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling for Mr Wright to lose his £85,000 a year job.

Mr Wright was a councillor in charge of children’s services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010 when hundreds of children were abused by Pakistani men who avoided prosecution because of a failure of agencies, including South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council, to admit the extent of the problem and take action. He has resigned from the Labour party, but refused to quit his police position.