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Sex Abuse Cases

Volume 592: debated on Monday 9 February 2015

16. What steps her Department has taken to ensure that lessons are learnt from recent child sex abuse cases in Rotherham and elsewhere. (907504)

I have been absolutely clear that what happened in Rotherham was a complete dereliction of duty. We have taken immediate action to protect children in Rotherham, and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced his intention to exercise his powers to intervene. I have been chairing a series of meetings with Secretary of State colleagues to consider the failures identified in Rotherham and the action we will take to address those issues at a national level. I will publish a report on the outcome of those meetings shortly.

In her important and shocking report on what was going on in Rotherham, Professor Alexis Jay spoke about the need to establish teams involving children’s services and education and local authorities, as well as the police. Will the Home Secretary update us on some of the proposals that will be coming forward from the cross-government meetings of Ministers?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. I am sure he will understand when I say that I cannot go into too much detail at this stage, but the Secretaries of State meetings have brought the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Secretary of State for Education, the Justice Secretary, the Health Secretary, the Attorney-General and others together to look at what is a necessary cross-government approach on these issues. We have been focusing on the issues that Professor Jay highlighted in her report: the failure of local leadership; the culture of inaction and denial in the police and the local council; the failure of local agencies to work together to protect children; and the lack of support for victims. It is exactly in those areas that we will be looking at proposals and bringing those forward shortly.

“Look North” reported this morning that charities such as Barnardo’s are reporting unprecedented demand following these high-profile scandals, which is putting a real strain on them financially. Is there any help the Government can give such charities in tackling this very important issue?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Of course, this has not just arisen in relation to what has happened in Rotherham; we have also seen, as a result of the child sexual abuse inquiry that I have announced, larger numbers of people coming forward to a number of organisations dealing with child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation. The Government announced before Christmas that £7 million was being made available for a number of types of organisation dealing with these issues, and that process is now open for bids to be received.