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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rotherham & Child Sexual Exploitation: what next?

Late last night, I finished reading the Jay Inquiry into how Rotherham Council dealt (or rather hasn't dealt) with child sexual exploitation in the town. The report also mentions several other agencies, particularly the local police, but the main focus was on the Council itself. I live tweeted (160+) my reading of the report, mostly with extracts (occasionally highlighted by me) but also some comments & reflections as I went through it. You can see all that I tweeted with the hash tag of #LTRR (live tweeting rotherham report*).

I hesitate to add any more actions to the 15 recommended ones made at the end of the report: since I have only read the report rather than created it out of a thousand conversations had and documents read.

I do hope that councillors and professional staff involved in child safeguarding and protection from all councils read the report and reflect on whether any of it conclusions might apply to their own organisation.

My overwhelming impression from reading the report is here was a council that was defiantly in denial of the evidence that was being brought forward. Here also was a council that seemed more focused on the numbers than on the young women and girls behind those numbers. And here was a council where potent scrutiny was mostly absent. Moreover, here was a senior leadership that was not truly listening to its front line staff and where the channels of communication with the communities were decidedly incomplete. 

So what next? Here are three provocative ideas that might help future 'Rotherhams' (and Oxfords, etc etc) from happening:
  1. Abandon first past the post electoral (FPTP) systems for local government (like Scotland has already done) in favour of more proportional ones. FPTP is designed to create large majorities in the council chamber when far greater political diversity exists amongst the electorate. This will help ensure better scrutiny & decision making in the future.
  2. Protect whistleblowers and independent researchers even more: with legislation if needs be and throughout the public services and commercial organisations. 
  3. End the daft performance management culture that plucks targets from the air and attempts to turn the world into one big spreadsheet. I am not a number! Nor were/are all the girls & young women of Rotherham and beyond.

(*If there is anyone with much more Twitter knowledge that I have who can turn these tweets into a story in the right order... I would be most grateful!)

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