Rotherham Council is facing a government-appointed inspection to examine whether information on abuse was covered up.
This is in the wake of a report that 1,400 children were sexually abused in Rotherham between 1997-2013 and that evidence of this had been ‘suppressed or ignored’.
The head of the government’s Troubled Families programme, Louise Casey, will lead the inspection which will look at how Rotherham is governed and whether it allows for proper scrutiny from councillors, its services for children and young people, and whether ‘whistle-blowers’ are silenced.
Casey will also examine whether the council was and continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness that affects decision making.
The inspection was announced by local government secretary Eric Pickles who said it was “in the public interest”.
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.
“We cannot undo the permanent harm that these children have suffered. But we can learn from what went wrong and make sure that all local authorities deliver on their essential duty to protect vulnerable children,” Pickles said.
The inspection will also look at whether the council is taking steps to address past and current weaknesses or shortcomings and whether it was taking sufficient steps to ensure only ‘fit and proper persons’ were permitted to hold a taxi licence.
National charity 4Children has welcomed the move after previously challenging the prime minister to announce a stand alone inquiry into abuse in Rotherham. Anne Longfield, chief executive of the children and families charity said: “The appointment of Louise Casey to head up the inspection is very welcome.
“Casey has a fearless reputation of bold action on behalf of families and we urge her to bring the same determination and scrutiny to this inquiry,” said Longfield.
Casey will report on her findings at the end of November.