Week 35: Villain – Shaun Wright

by George_East on August 31, 2014

villain_2_iconThis Week’s Villain of the Week is the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Shaun Williams

The sheer scale of sexual abuse of children in care in Rotherham is truly horrifying involving over a thousand of the most vulnerable children as victims and spanning a period of 16 years, from 1997 until as recently as last year.

What is most terrifying of all though is that the abuse went on under the noses of the agencies charged with protecting those very children – Rotherham Social Services, OFSTED and the South Yorkshire Police, to name but three.   The response to the scandal from those who were charged with responsibility for children in care has been deeply depressing.   No one appears to have known anything or be willing to own up to any failings.     This you might think, if true, would be reason itself for wholesale resignations of those who were in positions to prevent or investigate these horrific crimes.

However, there is good reason to believe it wasn’t true – there were numerous reports put before the council and others highlighting abuse.  The reaction appears to have been, whether through incompetence or fear of accusations of racism, to treat the victims as the problem (for what it is worth my view is that is as much about class as it is about race).   The stories of pre-teenage girls being arrested for being drunk and disorderly rather than the unrelated adult men they were found with, tells you much of what you need to know.

The report that has just been published into the abuse in Rotherham concluded that the abuse was such that ‘children had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened that they would be next if they told anyone’.

Yet Martin Kimber the Chief Executive of Rotherham Council has announced that there will be sackings or disclipinary proceedings in respect of any of its staff.  The South Yorkshire Police appear to be taking the same attitude.

At the top of the South Yorkshire Police under the absurd structure introduced by this government, sits the elected Police and Crime Commissioner (elected on pitifully low turnouts).   The current occupant of that post is Shaun Wright who was for 5 years the councilor in charge of children services.  He has thus been involved in senior oversight capacities in both of the agencies which failed these children most egregiously.    The problems in Rotherham clearly go way beyond Wright but while he remains in place he is both a distraction and a clear signal that the abuse is not being taken seriously.

Wright’s party, Labour, asked that he resign.  He did, from the party, but he remains stubbornly in post as Police and Crime Commissioner, no doubt taking comfort in his regret for the events that have happened, in his £85,000 per year salary.    In his unwillingness to take his share of responsibility for the worst case of institutional  sexual abuse in British history, he is a disgrace, a villainous disgrace.

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