This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Not quite saved by the division bell

I am currently riveted to my computer screen watching the proceedings of the Home Affairs Select Committee scrutiny of some of the people involved in the Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation. The division bell has just rung, so we (including the two current witnesses: the Rotherham Council CEO, who has just resigned, and Strategic Director for Children, Young People and Families) all have time to draw breath. (Now watching it again while trying to write this too.)

The current and former Chief Constables have just left the room after what may be called, with understatement, a roasting. Med Hughes, the Chief until 2011 looked deeply reflective. While there will be many who will pour scorn, incredulity and indeed hate upon him, I am very concerned about him.

Emphatically, I am not going to pass judgement upon Mr Hughes since I am not privy to all the facts and I have no idea about what he did or did not do in his role as Chief Constable about this matter. But it concerns me (and I am sure a lot less than it concerns Mr Hughes) that he appears to have known so little as to what was happening on his patch.

How can a Chief Constable be so (seemingly / allegedly) out of touch? Or is this inevitable in an organisation of the size he was head of? Are all CEOs that out of touch? Or was (is?) the culture of SYP so 'compliant' that people will hide & finagle data so much that little truth gets through to the managerial echelons of the organisation? Did numbers become more important than people? In how many other organisations has this become so? (In how many other Government policies has this become so...?)

I hope the announced inquiry gets to the bottom of all this. The inquiry must, of course, be about holding people to account. It MUST also be about getting to the root cause of how and why action was not taken. This is likely to be a systemic problem and unlikely to be just about a few people being in dereliction of their duty.

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