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Rotherham Council regains powers following child sex scandal

Prof Alexis Jay, who wrote a rpeort on the scale of the child sexual exploitation in Rotherham
Prof Alexis Jay, who wrote a rpeort on the scale of the child sexual exploitation in Rotherham

Rotherham Borough Council has regained control of its services which were stripped away following the child sexual exploitation scandal in the town.

The council has been under government control since February 2015 after damning reports revealed that at least 1,400 children were groomed, sexually abused and trafficked by men of largely Pakistani heritage over 16 years while those in authority failed to act. 

Professor Alexis Jay revealed the extent of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham in her report in 2014 and Dame Louise Casey examined the council’s failings, declared it ‘not fit for purpose’ and the leadership team stepped down.

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But Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said that following ‘strong progress’ by the council he will return control of all services to the local authority on September 24.

This includes children's social care and the withdrawal of the three commissioners who have been working there.

He said: "Vulnerable young people who should have been protected were repeatedly failed by Rotherham Council, which is why the government stepped in to ensure these errors can never occur again.

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"I am pleased that strong progress has now been made at the council with the support of the commissioners.

"The return of all powers to Rotherham Council is not a decision that I take lightly, but I am satisfied that the council has learnt the lessons of the past and is now able to provide the services its residents deserve and expect."

Mr Brokenshire said the changes are ‘on condition that the council commissions an independent progress review by February 2019.

The action follows the gradual return of selected functions to the council on four separate occasions since government intervention began in February 2015.

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Children and Families minister Nadhim Zahawi added: "The handing back of local children's services to the council marks an important step for this town.

"I am pleased that vulnerable children in Rotherham are now getting the help they need when they need it and I hope to see continuing improvements through the independent review next year."