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Minute by minute: Rotherham chief executive quizzed by MPs – full coverage

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Refresh the page for live coverage of Martin Kimber giving evidence to the communities and local government select committee on the Jay report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham

Martin Kimber

Martin Kimber

17:19 The committee meeting has finished.

17:15 When questioned as to whether the council had the details of the 1,400 victims, Thacker says the Jay report looked at 66 files. She restates that there are currently 2,200 files at the moment because there are that many children in social care. Of those 2,200, 145 of the cases relate to child sexual exploitation.

17:12 Thacker says there have not been any incidents of whistleblowing with regards to child sexual exploitation during her time in post.

17:11 Kimber says it would be “appropriate” for it to do this.

17:10 Committee chair Clive Betts (Lab) asks whether the council has the resources to deal with the situation now, considering the Jay report said the support was not there for victims. He questions whether the council was going to say to the secretary of state and the committee that it needs help.

17:06 The ethnic profile of offenders in Rotherham is now 60% white and 40% BME, says Thacker.

17:00 Thacker is being questioned on the fact that social workers did not believe children who said they were abused. She says she did not condone that in any way. She says she has not come across a case like that in her period in charge. There are currently 2,200 children in social care, she says. She adds there is a “really good” audit process and that she would be “appalled” if a child were not believed.

16:52 The session turns to the topic of ethnicity and the fact the Jay report suggested some staff were concerned about raising their concerns for fear of being considered racist. Mr Kimber says staff are told ethnicity is not an influence in tackling criminal activity.

16:50 Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk (Lab) makes a point about Mr Kimber’s use of the phrase “young women” earlier in the session, reminding him that the victims were in fact girls. He suggests the chief executive’s choice of language “speaks volumes”.

16:48 Kimber says there are some best practice issues that would be helpful to share across councils. He says he will write to the committe about these because they are technical.

16:45 She says child sexual exploitation should be part of social work training.

16:44 Thacker says other councils are now going to Rotherham to “borrow what we are doing”, including in terms of how they report abuse.

16:42 The council officers are being asked about whether the issue of child sexual exploitation is a “one-off” or an “endemic problem” across the country. Kimber is unsure whether “we fully understand the scale of the issue”.

16:38 Thacker says again they will look at the case files to find out who were the workers involved and to find the victims to give an apology. She says, if they need to, they will be asking the police to reopen cases.

16:34 Thacker says two social workers have been to her since 2008, when she joined, with concerns that a child was being sexually exploited. When questioned that the figure is low, she says they would not need to come to her because there are “checks and balances” through the system.

16:31 Kimber says the situation in Rotherham could be “a seminal moment” within UK history because it could make sure the “vile crime” is visible going forward.

16:23 Kimber reveals, when being asked about how he did not know about the scale of the abuse, that a number of the previous relevant reports are not in the council’s archives, because he had tried to read them. He says he has only seen part of the 2002 report and has “never seen” the 2003 report. He says he saw the 2006 report “for the first time on Sunday evening”.

16:16 Thacker is asked how many victims of child sexual exploitation she has met. She says “half a dozen” – out of the 1,400.

16:15 A committee member asks Kimber about the timing of his resignation and whether it was a “good time to bury bad news”, considering the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to have another baby. Kimber says the timing was “entirely coincidental”.

16:13 Kimber says that when he took over from his predecessor in 2009, he found the council to be a “broadly stable organisation with the exception of the children’s services”, which had gone into intervention. Thacker says she thought there were “some challenges” in children’s services.

16:12 Kimber and Thacker are being quizzed on the responsibilities of their predeccessors.

16:00 Prosecutions are improving, Thacker says, but more needs to be done.

15:52 Kimber supports a national reporting system.

15:49 Thacker says she is “determined to make this better” and that the council needs to make sure to go back to the 1,400 individuals and say sorry.

15:45 Thacker says the council is now “much better placed” to tackle the issue.

15:43 Joyce Thacker says there are currently 58 live investigations in child sexual exploitation on the go.

15:38 On his decision to step down, Kimber says he attended an “extremely emotional” cabinet meeting last week and that he has been “deeply shaken” by the events. He says it would be easier for the community of Rotherham to “begin the process of healing” if he were to leave.

15:37 Kimber says he bears responsibility but also says he had “no idea” of the scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

15:30 Kimber tells the committee the “pivotal moment” for him came when an article came forward in the middle of 2013 implicating one of the council members. He asked for a police investigation. It did not find criminal activity against that member.

15:22 The session is under way.

15:07 Kimber’s appearance comes a couple of days after he announced he would step down as chief executive in December.

15:01 After appearing yesterday before the home office select committee, Martin Kimber, chief executive of Rotherham MBC, and Joyce Thacker, the council’s strategic director of children and young people’s services, are back at Westminster to face MPs on the communities and local government select committee. The session is due to start at 15:15.

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