Rotherham abuse scandal: MPs want missing files answers

Sign in Rotherham showing town hall and police station Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rotherham is trying to restore its reputation following the revelations in the Jay report

An urgent investigation into allegations files relating to the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal went missing has been called for by MPs.

A Home Affairs Select Committee report said a council researcher claimed files detailing failures in tackling abuse were stolen from her office.

The report also calls for new laws to remove failing police commissioners.

It comes after the Jay report found more than 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused from 1997 to 2013.

'Suspicions of cover-up'

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said the Home Office should do "everything in its power" to locate any missing files in its possession relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and other places.

He said: "The proliferation of revelations about files which can no longer be located gives rise to public suspicion of a deliberate cover-up.

"The only way to address these concerns is with a full, transparent and urgent investigation."

The committee took evidence in private last month from a researcher employed by Rotherham Council between 2000 and 2002, who was working on a Home Office-funded pilot aimed at tackling prostitution.

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Media captionCommittee chairman Keith Vaz MP: "The whole truth has not emerged"

In April 2002, she submitted information to the Home Office containing severe criticisms of the agencies in Rotherham involved with child sexual exploitation, with the most serious alleging "indifference" on the part of senior managers.

She claimed someone then accessed her office and removed data relating to the Home Office work. She said there were no signs of a forced entry to the key-coded and locked security doors.

'Victims could have been spared'

In its report, the committee said it was not the first time files relating to child sexual exploitation were alleged to have disappeared.

The committee added that the council and South Yorkshire Police ignored "compelling evidence" about the scale of the abuse.

A central government investigation into whether the council covered up information about child sexual exploitation was launched in September.

And the National Crime Agency will lead an inquiry into outstanding allegations of abuse in Rotherham following a request from South Yorkshire Police last month.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shaun Wright resigned as police commissioner after weeks of pressure

Mr Vaz said: "If the council and police had taken these warnings seriously, the abusers could have been brought to justice more quickly and some of the later victims could have been spared their ordeal."

The Jay report led to a series of high-profile resignations, including Rotherham's strategic director of children's services, Joyce Thacker, and Labour police commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the councillor responsible for children's services between 2005 and 2010.

The Home Affairs Select Committee report recommends new legislation be brought in to help remove police commissioners when a vote of no confidence is passed by the Police and Crime Panel.

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