Rotherham Borough Council chief executive Martin Kimber says Joyce Thacker has as a vital role to play in ensuring the horrors of the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the town are never repeated.
Both the council and South Yorkshire police were heavily criticised in the Professor Alexis Jay’s report which said more than 1,400 children had been abused in the town over a 16-year period.
Roger Stone has already resigned as council leader in the wake of the findings being made public and the calls continue for South Yorkshire Police Commissioner Shaun Wright to also leave his post.
Mr Kimber said: “Victims of the past were brave enough to tell their story to avoid a new generation of young people being victims.”
“To make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated I need a really strong team around me to build on the strong foundations we have already laid.
“Our primary consideration is making sure that the victims of exploitation are supported, that our young people are protected and that the failings identified in the report are firmly consigned to the past.”
“Alexis Jay has made it very clear to me in her report that Joyce Thacker, the council’s strategic head for children and young people, is part of the solution in achieving better services.”
“Indeed, the report acknowledges that by 2008 ‘more committed and focused leadership of child sexual exploitation was apparent’.
“Joyce is dedicated and passionate about protecting and working with young people.”
“Very many of the improvements made since 2010 can be attributed to Joyce’s leadership, and her supportive and driving nature.”
“Indeed Ms Jay has acknowledged that staff described Joyce as ‘having provided excellent support during a difficult period’ to improve frontline child protection services.”
“She continues, under Joyce’s leadership ‘there ensued a great deal of work to reform systems and put in place quality assurance and performance management processes. The structure of the service was revised; professional supervision of social workers was provided only by social work managers who were experienced in child protection. Social workers who were in post in 2009 described the experience now to be ‘unrecognisable’ because of these improvements.’
“If we start to lose those good people, we will be in very grave danger of doing the very thing we have been criticised for – failing to protect Rotherham’s children and young people in the past.”
“There is no evidence in the report that leads me to conclude Joyce Thacker was implicated in suppressing information or failing to react appropriately to emerging issues around child sexual exploitation.”