Rotherham: Thacker vows that child sex abuse horrors of the past will never be repeated

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Council's former director of children and young people's services
Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Council's former director of children and young people's services

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Council’s strategic director for children, young people and families, says she will do all she can to ensure that young people in the town are made even safer in the wake of a damning report into the child sex abuse scandal in the town.

Professor Alexis Jay’s report said more than 1,400 children had been abuse din the town over a 16-year period and that the authorities had done nothing about it, even though they knew it was going on.

South Yorkshire police and the council came in for scathing criticism, leading to Roger Stone resigning as council leader while Shaun Wright remains under pressure to quit as South Yorkshire Police Commissioner.

Ms Thacker is also under pressure, in her role, to ensure that the reports demands that more is done to protect young people, are carried through.

And she said she was determined to ensure that would be the case.

“Like most people, I feel appalled at the horrific experiences which many of our young people went through, and I add my sincere apologies to those who were let down by our services in the past,” she said.

“It lays bare what went wrong, and there are simply no excuses.”

“The council commissioned this Independent Inquiry to scrutinise ourselves – to understand what went wrong, why it went wrong and to make sure that the mistakes of the past can never be repeated.”

“The report is a thorough document which helps us – and towns up and down the country – to better understand the failures of the past, to make sure we protect more young people now and in the future.”

“It is clear that we are now well-placed to better protect young people, alongside our partners.”

“It tells a story of clear and significant improvements since 2010, which we hope offers some degree of reassurance to young people and families about what they can expect from services today.”

“With regard to my own position, when I took up my current role in July 2008 I made child sexual exploitation an immediate priority, presenting two reports about the issue to the cabinet member for children and young people in July 2008 and November 2008.”

“I did, and continue to, take that responsibility very seriously, and the report author is clear that child protection services have been transformed since 2010 – under the watch of the current senior management team.”

“These are very difficult times and we need all of the experience and ability we can bring to bear.”

“The best way I can exercise my responsibility is to drive forward the report’s recommendations, and make sure young people in Rotherham are even safer.”

“Whilst I was deeply distressed to read about the horrific consequences of past mistakes, I was heartened that the report has recognised I have made a difference, and it strengthens my resolve to better protect the children and young people of this borough. We owe that to them.”

“Let’s remember that this is about the victims, and how we as a council continue to build on the strong foundation of significant improvements laid out in the report.”

“Now is the time to move forward as a community to ensure together we are doing the very best for our young people.”