Do we need a Judicial Review of systemic child abuse, rape and trafficking in Rotherham?

From Chris Longley MBE

A Judicial Review of systemic child abuse, rape and trafficking in Rotherham?

Last week I wrote to Rothpol saying that I have applied to Rotherham MBC asking for copies of the Agendas, Minutes and Reports of the Safeguarding Children Board from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010.

I wait to see the arrival of the documents with great interest, and within the twenty working days allowed for the Rotherham MBC response.

It then occurred to me that now might be an opportune moment for the Rotherham MBC itself to secure the provision of an independent judicial investigation – perhaps by appointing a retired Judge to head such an enquiry.

I am sure there is a number of eminent former Judges who would welcome the opportunity to take on a task of such clear and wide public interest, and on conditions they set themselves for the task.

Such an enquiry would of course offer the opportunity for a full and transparent examination of what information was made available by RMBC officers and others including South Yorkshire Police officers to the SC Board, what advice was offered to the SC Board, what that Board decided to do and when it decided to do it.

These are clearly matters that Rotherham MBC will wish to see in the public domain, and a judicial enquiry they commissioned themselves would surely be an appropriate way to secure such an outcome.

Kind regards

Chris

Chris Longley MBE

21 thoughts on “Do we need a Judicial Review of systemic child abuse, rape and trafficking in Rotherham?

    • Hi lovedinnington

      This entry is a bit longer that I would wish, but please bear with me and read it. Most kind. Thank you.

      I became involved in seeking the truth about the systemic abuse, rape and trafficking of children in Rothetham when I was an adviser last year to a candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Robert Teal. I should point out that I supported him personally and I have never been a member of any political party and I never will be. For the record Robert is a Liberal Democrat and I’ve known him over thirty years. I supported him because I thought he would be a decent and effective PCC, a view I still hold.

      During the campaign I started to receive anonymous rumours and allegations about child abuse in Rotherham and about the role the then Councillor Shaun Wright may or may not have played in these tragic events that spanned a half decade. The problem was that, as with all anonymous contacts, they are impossible to verify without access to proper sources.

      During the campign Councillor Wright never answered a single question put to him about his role as a member of the Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board. His reluctance, now he is Police and Crime Commissioner with responibility for the safety of every child across the whole of South Yorkshire, seems perhaps strange.

      But the issue would have stayed unanswered and maybe even forgotten except that after the PCC Election the anonymous rumours kept coming to me.

      Meanwhile in Westminster in the autumn of 2012 the Home Affairs Select Committee had already begun its investigations into the issue of systemic child abuse and rape nationally.

      When they interviewed two Rotherham MBC officers in early January 2013 (The CExec Martin Kimber and the responsible director, a Ms Joyce Thackray) the Committee instructed them to provide the reports of the Safeguarding Board on the matter. If you watch the video of the Home Affairs Committee proceedings on the UK parliament website you will see the extent to which the two officials co-operated with the Committee.

      The scene moves to May 2013.

      Despite the letters that Mr Kimber and Ex-Councillor Wright have sent to the Home Affairs Committee in very recent times – not the Safeguarding Board reports as instructed – the public are no wiser about what the Safeguarding Board were told, when they were told it and what that Safeguarding Board then decided and the actions it took. Councillor Wright was RMBC Cabinet Member for Children etc throughout 2005/2006 to 2009/2010.

      As I write the reports the Committee wanted have still not yet been listed as being provided by RMBC, so the public do not know from those reports what the Safeguarding Board was doing for half a decade.

      I have therefore done two things in recent times:

      1 I have recently written and I have asked RMBC for the Safeguarding Board agendas minutes and reports for 2005/6 to 2009.2010 period.

      2 I have today suggested that in the interests of tranparency the RMBC should itself appoint a Judge – possibly retired – to lead an independent enquiry into these matters and into what the Safeguarding Board in particular may or may not have known and done.

      I will wait to see what RMBC now do.

      I and many others still want to know how it was that organised gangs could systematically abuse rape and traffick Rotherham children, and with the exception of one prosecuted and sentenced gang, get away with it for so many years. And at such cost to the innocent children who suffered, and at such costs also those people who tried to care for them and were obstructed in those attempts.

      I hope this explains who I am, and also why I have stayed involved.

      Kind regards

      Chris

      Chris Longley MBE

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      • Chris I have just read your piece I love Dinnington, I myself have often thought that Mr Wright and co seem to be dragging their feet on this matter.could you possibly let me know how I can contact him or his associates.

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      • From Chris Longley MBE

        Dear Mr John Hadgett

        Thank you very much for your entry on the Rothpol blog and for your supporting comments. I am most grateful.

        I attach below a link to the homepage of the website of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, ex-Councillor Shaun Wright:

        http://www.southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/Home.aspx

        You will see that there is a “contact” button that brings up a web-based enquiry page that requires the giving of personal information in support of any enquiry.

        There is also an 01226 telephone number that is a contact point for the itinerary of the consultation meetings that are attended by the Commissioner in connection with the Policing Plan and other PCC matters.

        I suspect that the scope of these consultation meetings will be strongly focused on current and future policing matters – as they should be.

        So it might prove difficult to introduce a discussion about past issues when the Commissioner held a different role.

        I suspect that the Rotherham systemic child abuse, rape and trafficking crimes might well fall into that category.

        So I do advise caution.

        There is as yet no concrete information – especially time lines – in the public domain about these matters which is why I am trying to get that concrete information through the Freedom of Information Act request I have made to RMBC.

        Since there are no records in the public domian that I am aware of (and I do promise I have looked extremely carefully) of ex-Councillor Wright ever answering a question on his pesponsibilities in connection with these Rotherham child abuse and rape matters, I doubt that the current round of Police and Crime Commissioner consultation meetings will bring a change in that position.

        I suspect only a question based on incontrovertable fact will ever have a chance of doing that.

        Kindest regards

        Chris

        Chris Longley MBE

        PS RMBC confirmed by telephone today that they are looking at my FOI request. I will keep you posted.

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  1. Good luck Chris with your request for information however I fear unless you made the request under FoI the words ‘redacted’ and ‘not available’ may appear in RMBC’s response.

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  2. From Chris Longley MBE

    This is a long entry, so I hope you will bear with me whilst I say what it contains.
    It bears directly on the truth of what happened in those darkest of days.

    1 WHY I BECAME INTERESTED IN THESE MATTERS
    As some of you will know already, I have been trying to get at the truth in such a way that those people are held to account that were in charge of child safety in Rotherham whilst these systematic cases of child abuse and rape were being committed. I have been trying to do this since ex-Councillor Shaun Wright was standing as a candidate to be elected as the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner last year, 2012.

    All through that 2012 Election anonymous rumours reached the campaign team for Robert Teal (and I was helping Robert’s team) that Councillor Wright was in some way involved in the Rotherham cases. But whenever we pushed for evidence, none came. It is also a fact that Councillor Wright never answered questions on these matters during his whole PCC campaign nor as far as I am aware afterwards.

    But the rumours did not stop after the Election results were declared. Then gradually it became clear that Councillor Wright had been in charge of safeguarding Rotherham’s children for half a decade whilst these terrible crimes against children in Rotherham were being committed. I have emails from RMBC that set out the precise dates involved.

    Clearly what Councillor Wright knew, when did he know it and what did he do (or not do) about these matters is vital to understanding how the systematic abuse and rape of children in Rotherham could take place on such a vast scale, unimpeded and over so many years.
    I know this is long, but bear with me and keep reading.

    2 THE HOME AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT

    The Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons is investigating these cases of child abuse and rape in Rotherham and other cities around the country.

    What is happening now in 2013: before Christmas 2012 the Select Committee indicated to Andrew Norfolk (the journalist on The Times newspaper who has put much of what is known about these matters into the public domain) that they intended to call the then still Councillor Shaun Wright to testify on these matters in Parliament.

    I made clear to the Select Committee that there was no point interviewing the then still Councillor Wright until the Select Committee itself had copies (with no details blanked out) of every Agenda, Minute and Report that the Safeguarding Children Board received whilst Councillor Wright was on it. In short, they needed a timeline.

    Only in this way would the Select Committee know what Councillor Wright was told, when he was told it, what statements did he approve, and what did he decide should be done in these matters.

    3 RECENT EVENTS

    Sadly the Home Affairs Committee never took oral evidence from ex-Councillor Wright, nor did they receive from RMBC any of the reports they instructed the Rotherham Officers (Kimber/Thackray) to provide when they gave oral evidence in January of 2013. The video of their oral session is on the UK parliament website and viewers will watch it and form their own views.

    The Home Affairs Committee has however recently received letters from both ex-Councillor Wright and from Martin Kimber the RMBC Chief Executive. I have read them several times and I am none the wiser as to who knew what, when they knew it, what they decided and what actions were instructed.

    I have therefore acted as follows, as any member of the public can:

    (a) I have written to RMBC and asked for all the Safeguarding Children’s Board agendas minutes and reports from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010, and that span the period when ex-Councillor Wright was a member
    (b) Suggested that RMBC themselves should now appoint a Judge – possibly retired – to conduct an independent and transparent inquiry into these matters of systemic child abuse rape and trafficking over the half decade involved. Clearly this is an action they will wish to take.

    But it would of course be entirely unnecessary so to do if the papers of the Safeguarding Board had been released in a timely and open manner, and if Ex-Councillor Wright had answered the questions about what he knew, when he knew it, and what did he decide should be done over a half a decade in office in the Safeguarding Children Board. I now wait to see happens in response to these suggestions.

    I am so sorry again that this has been a long entry, but the devil will be in the detail. I hope it also sets out clearly who I am and why I take this interest do seriously.

    Kind regards

    Chris Longley MBE

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  3. Chris, all I can say is keep up the good work. These terrible crimes have to be exposed and the process of law allowed to take place instead of the disgraceful cover-up this has been so far. All persons responsible for both the crimes and the cover-up should be prosecuted for their part in this disgraceful episode in Rotherham’s history. How anyone involved in the Safeguarding Children’s Board during that dreadful period can keep quiet is beyond belief. Is the RMBC mafia so powerful that no one dare come forward and blow the whistle?

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  4. A great suggestion Chris!

    A Judicial review of the Rotherham child abuse scandal is long overdue.

    Regrettably while Labour hold power it will never happen, far too many Labour Cllrs knew what was happening and did not have the guts to end the culture of political correctness and the priority placed on community cohesion.

    A question for Cllr Vine, will you lobby for a judicial review?

    If UKIP draws together a Rotherham based manifesto for the 2014 local elections that includes implementing a Judicial review along with cuts to the numbers of Cllrs and caps the salaries of the very senior Officers they will sweep the board, ridding the town of this morally bankrupt Labour run council.

    Keep up the good work Chris.

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  5. Fron Chris Longley MBE

    Dear Anonymous

    I am very grateful for the kind words that you and others have said on this blog. I hope that the need will become overwhelming among those now in power to be open and honest about these dreadful crimes and the manner in which these crimes were allowed to continue for so long without effective challenge. Until we know the blight on so many young lives will not be lifted and that compounds the dereliction.

    How and when this transparency will dawn will be for those in power now in Westminster and locally to decide.

    Locally, the better choice will be to set up a Judicial Review voluntarily of their own local volition.

    I say this because any externally ordered Judicial Review could legitimately start from the question “Why did you not do this yourselves?”

    But I must now repeat that I am a member of no political party and I will never join one. So how this is now dealt with by the politicians – nationally and locally – is a matter for them.

    Kind regards

    Chris

    Chris Longley MBE

    .

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  6. Well done Chris, keep going. The only thing I can add is that I had very strong insider information alleging that over a few years several taxi drivers were given licences despite police records showing them to have convictions that should have ruled them out i.e. crimes of violence or sexual assault.

    All the evidence for elsewhere indicates that taxi drivers have been the pool from which many of perpetrators tend to come – but be clear, not all taxi drivers.

    If the allegations are correct some people out there know the names of the drivers , what they did and who made the case for their applications to be allowed.

    All information to Rik, please. I am sure you will be given anonymity and advice.

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    • From Chris Longley MBE

      Dear William Ewart

      Thank you so much for your support. It means a great deal that so many people care about casting light on how these tragic events of systematic child abuse, trafficking and rape were allowed to happen in Rotherham.

      I am sure that anyone who has evidence – hard evidence – would now be best advised to contact the Headquarters of South Yorkshire Police at Snig Hill so they could be directed to the specialist team of officers now handing these matters in each of the four Districts of South Yorkshire. If the statements made by David Crompton QPM the new Chief Constable have the substance I believe they have, such evidence will be taken very seriously and acted upon without delay.

      Anonymous rumours are a genuine and vital starting point, but making Rotjherham children and young people safe from abuse will take evidence that meets the test of “beyond reasonable doubt” if these criminal gangs are to be defeated.

      Kindest regards

      Chris

      Chris Longley MBE

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  7. Thanks Chris Longley for your determination in bringing the facts to light in this situation.
    Everyone in Rotherham needs to be made aware of what has happened and what you are doing to expose those responsible.
    Best wishes for your continued work.

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  8. From Chris Longley MBE

    Earlier today I suggested on this blog that anyone with evidence about child sexual exploitation should contact South Yorkshire Police and give them that evidence. To help anybody to do this whether they are a witness, a victim, a relative or a carer I include below an extract from South Yorkshire Police’s own website. It contains the direct telephone lines into the four District teams set up specifically to deal with these issues. Please circulate these details as widely as possible:

    (QUOTE FROM WEBSITE BEGINS)

    What does South Yorkshire Police do to tackle child sexual exploitation?

    All uniformed and detective officers in South Yorkshire have received child sexual exploitation awareness training and it is every officers’ responsibility to spot the warning signs of sexual exploitation when interacting with young people. In addition, the Force has a number of specially trained officers who deal specifically with child sexual exploitation cases and missing people.

    These staff are co-located within multi-agency teams within each borough of South Yorkshire. These teams are dedicated to safeguarding young people, working with at risk individuals. Disrupting offenders and helping victims escape the cycle of abuse.
    How can I get help?

    Always call 999 in an emergency, if a crime is in progress or a life is at risk. For other incidents please contact South Yorkshire Police on 101.

    Barnsley – If you have concerns regarding children in Barnsley call 01226 438831 or 01226 772423

    Doncaster – If you have concerns regarding children in Doncaster call 01302 737777

    Rotherham – If you have concerns regarding children in Rotherham call 01709 823987

    Sheffield – If you have concerns regarding children in Sheffield call 0114 2734934

    Alternatively, you can contact Childline on 0800 11 11 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.” (QUOTE FROM WEBSITE ENDS)

    From this information – prominent on the South Yorkshire Police website as it is – you will see how seriously the new Chief Constable and his ccurrent team are taking these grave matters.

    I hope this helps.

    Kind regards

    Chris

    Chris Longley MBE

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    • Just words! Once action starts, then victims and their families will come forward in their droves. Until then I have great difficulty in endorsing your encouragement to report matters to local authorities, as they currently appear to be part of the problem, not the solution!

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      • From Chris Longley

        Dear Rothpol

        Trust has to start somewhere. The future has to be different to the past where these grave crimes are concerned.

        When I and Robert Teal spoke with the new Chief Constable late last year his determination to change how these vile matters were dealt with by his officers was real. These new child protection team arrangements and the contacts for them need to be given a chance to work.

        The alternative is for South Yorkshire’s children and young people at risk – and those who care for them – to stay in isolation and possibly even in continuing danger.

        I am sure nobody wants that. And that is why I have repeated these details.

        Kind regards, and as ever I am grateful for your support

        Chris

        Chris Longley MBE

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  9. If the Chief Constable is so determind to act on this I hope that he has interviewed our Police and Crime Commissioner on what he knew when he was the Cabinet Member and as asked to see the council documents Chris as asked for and explained to every one involved what it means to withold evidence.from a Police enquiry

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    • From Chris Longley MBE

      Dear Caven Vines

      Sorry about the delay in answering your post.

      I was collecting my daughter from her community yesterday and its a long drive up to Middlesbrough and back in a day! I did not mean to be rude.

      When I looked last year at the legislation that created the Police and Crime Commissioner system it was very clear that a lot of eventualities had not been thought through properly: a consequence of both poor drafting and of rushing the lawmaking process I suspect. For example, the only power to suspend a PCC falls to the local scrutiny committee/panel and even then only when a PCC is either charged with a serious criminal offence or is actually convicted of a lesser offence. The Home Secretary has no powers of intervention at all.

      One of the situations for which a process is missing from the legislation seems to be where a Chief Constable has a need to deal with an investigation into their own Police and Crime Commissioner, and given the haste with which this legislation was dratfed that doesn’t surprise me.

      In these circumstances – and it might be the case here in South Yorkshire – I suspect the only practical route is for a Chief Constable at the very outset to refer any such investigation to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. For a Chief Constable to take on an investifgation into their own PCC would potentially be a massive conflict of interest given the PCCs “power of hire and fire” over the Chief Constable.

      In these circumstances, an investigation by the IPCC is probably the least worst option, but at least it would be neutral and would separate the parties from the employer/employee relationship built into the PCC system..

      I hope this helps

      Kind regards

      Chris

      Chris Longley MBE

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