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Casey to head Rotherham probe

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Troubled Families programme head Louise Casey is to inspect Rotherham MBC for the government following the disclosures of child sex exploitation in the town.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said Ms Casey would review governance, service delivery to children and young people, taxi licensing and Rotherham’s capacity to address issues identified by the Jay report last month into how some 1,400 cases of abuse arose.

Ms Casey will also be expected to probe whether whistleblowers were silenced and whether Rotherham “continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness, affecting it’s decision making on sensitive issues”, a Department for Communities & Local Government statement said.

Inspection of the council’s actions to ensure only ‘fit and proper persons’ hold a taxi licence was included given the several references in the Jay report to the use of taxis by abusers.

Mr Pickles said: “With clearly documented failures by the council on so many levels, I have decided to take the rare step of a statutory inspection, which I believe is in the public interest.”

Ms Casey will report by 30 November. She will also produce a separate report on recommendations to other local authorities on improving services to children and young people.

Solace president Mark Rogers said in a response to Ms Casey’s appointment: “Recent events tell us that there are systemic problems in how society deals with child sexual exploitation.

“Her track record of successfully pursuing radical solutions to wicked issues and her ability to look beyond symptoms to address the underlying causes will help uncover the lessons of these terrible events.”

Meanwhile, former deputy leader Paul Lakin (Lab) has become Rotherham’s leader following a two-week gap since Roger Stone (Lab) resigned on publication of the Jay report.

Cllr Lakin has dissolved the cabinet and is in the process of constructing a new one.

He has also asked the LGA to form an improvement board to help guide Rotherham’s recovery.

An LGA spokesperson said: “It’s vital that Rotherham is given the appropriate support to ensure previous failures to protect young people are not allowed to happen again.

“The LGA will work with the authority on an ongoing basis to set up an independently chaired improvement board to ensure children are safe, further improve services and look to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the authority.”

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