The grandfather of an alleged victim of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham told South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright: “If I had a gun, I would shoot you.”
Mr Wright faced public questions for the first time since the publication of a report that highlighted how 1,400 children in the town were subjected to ordeals including being raped, trafficked and assaulted over a 16-year period.
But the commissioner did not stay until the end of the meeting in Rotherham Town Hall to hear the South Yorkshire police and crime panel, which oversees his work, pass another vote of no confidence in him and endorse calls for a change in the law to enable him to be sacked. He left the building escorted by police before the panel reached its decision and got into a car to shouts of “Shaun Wright out” from a small group of protesters.
Mr Wright was booed as he entered the chamber for the meeting and endured constant shouts for him to resign from the public gallery, including from abuse victims.
At times the meeting had to be stopped for appeals to be made for calm as screams of derision were directed at the commissioner while he explained himself. He was confronted from the public gallery by a man who said his 12-year-old granddaughter was arrested for being drunk and disorderly by officers who let her four adult abusers go free.
The man said: “You were a disgrace, mate. If I had a gun I would shoot you.” Mr Wright responded, saying: “Clearly, if that took place, it’s an absolute disgrace.”
South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton was earlier this week asked by MPs about a victim who was arrested when she was found in a derelict house with a group of men. Mr Crompton said the Independent Police Complaints Commission would look into the incident.
Yesterday, two young women who said they had been sexually exploited in Rotherham also questioned the commissioner, one repeatedly haranguing him. Other members of the public asked him repeatedly why he had not resigned.
Mr Wright has been the focus of attention since the publication of Professor Alexis Jay’s report into the exploitation in Rotherham because he was the councillor with responsibility for children’s services in the borough from 2005 to 2010.
Calls for him to step down have been led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
But he has resisted every challenge and when Labour threatened to throw him out of the party, he resigned his membership.
Yesterday, chairman Harry Harpham said the panel had passed a vote of no confidence in him and endorsed calls by the Commons home affairs select committee for legislation to enable PCCs to be sacked in “exceptional circumstances”.
The panel oversees the commissioner but can only suspend him if he is charged with a criminal offence with a maximum penalty in excess of two years’ imprisonment.