Rotherham MP describes town’s child protection funding as ‘drop in the ocean’
MP calls for dedicated centre to support victims of child sex abuse in Rotherham
Call for abuse victims to get ‘disaster’ funds
PM demands action on grooming gangs
“Andrew Norfolk Chief Investigative Reporter
Published at 12:01AM, February 27 2015
David Cameron is to host a Downing Street conference to demand decisive action against sex-grooming criminals.
Triggered by public outrage over the Rotherham child-abuse scandal, next week’s event will challenge ministers and experts to find new ways to target offenders and protect vulnerable young teenagers across the country.
The prime minister will say that “we owe it to our children, and to the children who survive horrific sexual abuse, to do better”.
He will also meet privately with victims and specialist workers from Rotherham, where 1,400 girls were groomed, pimped and trafficked by organised groups of men, largely of Pakistani origin, over a 16-year period.
An independent inquiry revealed last year that police and care professionals in the South Yorkshire town knew of the abuse but failed to tackle it, in part because of concerns about racism and community cohesion.
A follow-up inspection by Louise Casey, director-general of the government’s Troubled Families programme, led to the local authority being stripped of its powers. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, yesterday named five commissioners who will take over the council’s executive functions and replace its ruling Labour cabinet.
He also pledged £250,000 to fund the rebirth of a pioneering Rotherham street project that supported child victims and gathered intelligence about men suspected of targeting them. The specialist youth service team, Risky Business, was shut down by the council in 2011, a decision Mr Pickles described as “misguided and inappropriate”.
Ms Casey said that resuming the project “will hopefully repair some of the damage done and support victims to bring more perpetrators of these vile crimes to justice”.
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, and Jayne Senior, who ran Risky Business, will meet the prime minister with grooming victims and their families before Tuesday’s event.
A No 10 spokesperson said that on Tuesday Mr Cameron and ministers would meet leaders from local authorities, clinical leaders, chief constables and experts in child protection to demand “a new culture of action to stamp out child sexual exploitation and put perpetrators behind bars”. ”