Two district MPs have called for heads to roll at the very top of the council after a damning report into child sexual exploitation in Bradford revealed years of failings – as Government say it is minded to appoint an independent commissioner to oversee children’s services.
Shipley MP Philip Davies and Keighley MP Robbie Moore said cliches such as "lessons will be learnt" were not good enough and were a further insult to the victims, failed by those who should have been protecting them.
The two MPs believe those at the top of Bradford Council should be held accountable and want answers as to who will be taking responsibility for the catalogue of issues that have been highlighted.
Mr Davies said: “This independent report makes chilling reading. I cannot imagine what these children went through and I am absolutely disgusted with the catalogue of failings at the hands of the very people who should have been protecting them.
“There is no excuse for this, people at the top of Bradford Council need to be held accountable. Who is going to take responsibility for these failings or are we just expected to shrug our shoulders and move on? These failings can never be allowed to happen to our children again, and victims need to know that someone is taking responsibility.”
Mr Moore said: “This report makes for harrowing reading. Bradford’s Children’s services were rated inadequate three years ago. Council bosses have had years to sort this out. They haven’t, so it’s time for those responsible to resign, so we can get these vital services sorted out at speed.”
The independent report of five cases in the Bradford district since 2001 found that "children suffered abuse no child should have to experience" and problems were reported but they were "not heard or acted on". In one instance, the report suggests authorities tried to attribute some blame on one of the victims, a 12-year-old girl, claiming she was “putting herself at risk.”
Mr Davies added: “Such a claim is morally reprehensible. She was a victim, not only of abuse, but a victim, like the others, of incompetence at the highest level across organisations which should be protecting our children.”
The call from the MPs come as Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford wrote to council bosses saying Government is appointing an independent commissioner to examine services across the district, which could end in children’s services being taken away from Bradford Council control.
Mr Davies said: “This is embarrassing and shameful, and those running Bradford Council should hang their heads in shame that they can’t be trusted to run these vital services. How they can shamelessly cling on to their posts frankly beggars belief.”
Mr Moore said: “I strongly support the government’s plan to appoint an Independent Commissioner for Children’s Services so that the current appalling situation is turned around once and for all.
“Local children have been badly let down. Bradford Council must make this their top priority.”
In her letter following the report being published Ms Ford wrote: “The detail of these concerns was very difficult to hear and leads me to question how widespread these failures are across Bradford’s children’s services. I am also concern leaders do not have sufficient grip and oversight of the quality of services children in Bradford receive. Therefore, I am minded to appoint an independent Commissioner for children’s services and escalate the current improvement Notice to a Statutory Direction.”
It means a review will now be carried out with recommendations put forward on how to improve services across the district, including the possibility of removing children’s social care services from the local authority control.