Rotherham Council has been nominated for a “social work employer of the year” award, despite the authority being slammed in government reports for failing 1,400 girls raped and abused by Muslim grooming gangs.
Responding to the nomination, the council claimed that “Rotherham is turning the tables on its past”, after the 2014 Jay report and 2015 Casey report, which said political correctness and fear of accusations of racism contributed to the abuse being overlooked for more than a decade.
The nomination, part of the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017, is reportedly a result of the authority’s “outstanding work with vulnerable children” following a recent recruitment drive.
On the same day as the nomination, it was reported that a further 12 mainly Muslim men had been charged in connection with the historical sexual abuse of eight young girls in Rotherham.
The Rotherham scandal has been described as “the biggest child protection scandal in UK history” and was exposed in 2010 after five Pakistani Muslim men were jailed for sexual offences against underage girls following Operation Central. Subsequent operations and trials led to a further 20 convictions.
— Rotherham Council (@RMBCPress) October 4, 2017
In total, there were more than 1,400 victims between 1997 and 2013. The Casey report found that Rotherham Council had a “bullying” culture of “covering up uncomfortable truths, silencing whistle-blowers, and paying off staff rather than dealing with difficult issues”.
In August 2015, it was reported that more than 160 police officers were under investigation over allegations they systematically ignored complaints of widespread child sexual exploitation.
“This Council suffered as a result of how issues were handled in the past,” commented Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s services at Rotherham Council.
“However, following the appointment of Commissioners, supported by local elected members, green shoots of recovery have definitely started to emerge. And being short listed like this highlights the positive steps we are taking.”
Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, added:
“This really couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Staff retention is higher than average which is great news and we still have all of our 22 newly qualified social workers with us who came in last year, which is a record for the Council. Nationally more than a quarter of new starters leave the profession within the first year, so this is a real achievement.
“And we have been told by Ofsted in recent monitoring visits that we are have a ‘positive organisational culture’. Three years ago this praise would have been unheard of here in Rotherham. This really is such a tremendous turnaround for us.”