Firstly, you should be commended for the paper’s vocal support of charities like Rape Crisis. Yes, you are right that more resources should be devoted to support for victims and no that is not your responsibility. I will let Alison address the issues raised by your lack of knowledge in this area, which you do, in fairness, admit.
I will address your points about your lack of coverage of the child sex grooming issue in Rotherham because let’s not forget that these were children. Our children. South Yorkshire children.
You appear to suggest that you “could do more”. A tentative apology? You tell me that you have to limit your resources because you cover a wide area. So, in Rotherham it is being alleged that 100 girls were abused in specific areas, in a particular way, by a specific section of the local community and that the local authority had chosen to cover up that abuse in favour of avoiding stirring up racial tension in the local communities.
This was brought into the public domain by The Times, a national newspaper and so there is little danger of libel for me, so not for you either.
All candidates were vociferously raising this during the Police and Crime Commissioner campaign. Except one. All knew that it was of vital concern to the people of Rotherham that such abuse should never be allowed to occur again and that those responsible for failings should face justice. Raising awareness was key. One of the candidates was accused sensationally on radio of complicity in this.More than once and by more than one other candidate.
You reported nothing. In fact you gave column inches to the candidate accused of failings professing his intentions to act in this area. You asked no questions of him regarding the allegations. You asked for no comment from the other candidates as fair reporting would demand.
That candidate subsequently became South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the woman he presided over as cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services in Rotherham at the time of the child grooming scandal, Joyce Thacker is currently being hauled into the political and media spotlight for still further failings.
This was a news story any local journalist would die for surely? Not The Star. Too busy. Too complex. Too….well what? Because they are terrible excuses. Meanwhile, you also did nothing to remind Sheffield parents of the fact that these abuses took place in Meadowhall shopping centre amongst others, a place they may be allowing their young children to visit without any knowledge of this or any warning to be alert.
This was poor and biased journalism. What message is being sent to the children who have not as yet come forward? What about those being abused right now? Don’t bother? The local press don’t have the column inches for you? The local authority aren’t able to act as their hands are tied by lack of resources and the need to consider local sensitivities.
The police are in the hands of a man who is currently juggling that role with a role on the council that let you down?
Lots of heads should be hanging in shame over this. The price of criticising Rotherham Labour is high. But I will not hide away because it is more comfortable for me to say nothing. That would be cowardly and would be a huge betrayal of our children.
Reprinted with permission from, http://tl.gd/k5kr9i