28 August 2014

The global capital of buck-passing……..

The 'Today' programme (BBC Radio 4 27th August) carried an interesting interview with Rotherham Council Deputy Leader Paul Lakin who was being interviewed regarding Prof. Alexis Ray's report on child abuse in Rotherham. Cllr Lakin was pressed by John Humphries to give his opinion as to whether the Police & Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, should resign. Lakin was unable to state an opinion other than that it was a matter for Mr Wright and Mr. Wright alone.

Quoting from The Guardian, 'Following the publication of Jay's report on Tuesday calls also came for the head of Shaun Wright, who became the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire two years ago following a five-year spell in charge of children and youth services on Rotherham borough council.

Though he is not criticised by name in the report, he was responsible for child protection during a period in which Jay said police and council were well aware that there was a serious problem with child exploitation in Rotherham and yet failed to act.'

Humphries went on to question Lakin further about wider responsibility across the period covered by the Ray Report. Humphries was incredulous when Cllr Lakin stated that, since 2010, he was not aware of the breadth and depth of child abuse in Rotherham. Lakin joined the Council in 1999 and stated that he had not known of any abuse reports with my inference that, he therefore bore no responsibility for what went on.

One of the facets of the Ray Report is that the perpetrators targeted care homes to gain access to their victims, very reminiscent of Savile, Cyril Smith and others and, once again, no-one accepts responsibility. How did the perpetrators gain access to care-homes? Who let them in? I can't imagine that you or I would be able to walk into a care-home, find out who was under-age and then arrange to meet, groom, abuse, rape and traffic those victims yet this seems to have happened in Rotherham and the people responsible, the people in post whilst this abuse went on, shrug their shoulders and say, 'Nothing to do with me guv'.

I don't doubt that this abuse is widespread and I don't doubt that it is ignored or covered up mostly because there is no culture of responsibility in public life today. But more importantly, many of the Rotherham victims were ignored because those in authority saw them as an underclass, not to be believed and not worthy of help.

I look back at the manner in which John Profumo responded to his own mistakes whilst in government and it is a distant memory. I am sure that Mr Lakin would have been a lot more careful about what he did or did not know if he believed that he would be responsible for everything that went on during his watch, whether he knew about it or not.

But here, on HMS Great Britain, the captain is no longer responsible, if they ever were, when the ship founders.