Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham Council's 'serious failures put children at risk'

Rotherham Town Hall Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rotherham Council's children's services have been rated 'inadequate'

"Widespread or serious failures" at Rotherham Council are leaving young people at risk of harm, Ofsted has warned.

An inspection by the watchdog last month rated the authority's children's services as "inadequate".

The new report said management had not sufficiently understood the failures or been effective in making improvements.

Rotherham Council said it "fully accepted" the findings of the report.

Ofsted's verdict comes after the Jay Report, published in August, revealed up to 1,400 children were sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013.

'Apologies aren't enough'

Ofsted itself was criticised by MPs on Tuesday for not carrying out effective inspections in Rotherham over the period covered by the Jay Report.

In response, the watchdog said it had now introduced a "more rigorous inspection framework".

Its new report, published earlier, covered an inspection between 16 September and 8 October.

Inspectors found children's welfare had not been safeguarded and police and social workers still did not work together properly.

"This means that key information held by other agencies may not be taken into account, and potential risks to children may not be considered," said the report.

Council leader Paul Lakin said keeping children safe remained the authority's highest priority.

"We are sorry that we have let them down in the past, but we know that apologies simply aren't enough," he said.

"We are determined and committed to addressing all the issues raised in this report, and must demonstrate that we are doing so, if we are to rebuild trust and confidence in our services."

'Too slow'

The report also slammed the Local Safeguarding Children Board for its response to the Jay Report.

"Findings have led to much activity, but this has been ineffectively coordinated, with insufficient integration of effort - the pace of change has been too slow."

Steve Ashley, independent chairman of the board, said: "This is a further example of where collectively agencies could have done better for children, young people and families.

"The board partners were already aware of many of the issues raised in the report and are already working hard together to address these."

A separate Ofsted report, published earlier, said local authorities across England were failing vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation.

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