The Rotherham child abuse scandal deepened last night as embattled police commissioner Shaun Wright’s deputy quit.
The government also ordered an early inspection into child-protection services in the Yorkshire town.
Tracey Cheetham announced she was resigning after a devastating report exposed widespread child sexual exploitation over 16 years – and called on Mr Wright to follow suit. Former Labour councillor Ms Cheetham said she felt “unable to continue” in the role. “It is vital for people to have confidence in the office of police and crime commissioner and I believe it would have been the right thing for Shaun Wright to resign,” she said.
In other developments, one unnamed Rotherham social worker said there was a culture in which meeting statistical council targets was a priority over the welfare of children.
The developments came as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced Ofsted would carry out an early inspection of child-protection services in Rotherham.
The Department for Education disclosed yesterday that children’s minister Edward Timpson has written to Rotherham Council following Professor Alexis Jay’s report, to seek “urgent reassurance”.
Meanwhile, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced it was contacting South Yorkshire Police. IPCC deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said this was because “the report raised serious and troubling concerns about the action or inaction of South Yorkshire Police when dealing with the reported abuse over a number of years”.
Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron said the report was “deeply shocking”. He said: “The Home Secretary (Theresa May) was right to say, having looked at the report, the fact that the police commissioner was at the time head of children’s services, that the right decision would be to resign and take full responsibility for what happened.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Wright said he would not comment on Mr Cameron’s remarks. Mr Wright has said he was “not aware of the scale of the problem” documented by Prof Jay, who said at least 1,400 children were abused from 1997 to 2013 amid widespread failings.
But Prof Jay said yesterday that, given the information available to agencies, “nobody could say ‘I didn’t know’.”