The Jay report’s description of the collective political and leadership failures in Rotherham as “blatant” could not be more stark. Accountability is of course important, but we are fooling ourselves if we think this child abuse scandal is all about individual failings and that the dispatch of key individuals is a sufficient response.Dunno about that, Kier. Depends on how many scalps we claim, and how far ranging we make it, doesn’t it?
At the heart of the problems identified by the report, the commissioner’s reports and the work I did as director of public prosecutions in issuing new guidelines on prosecuting child sexual exploitation in 2013 is a deeply embedded cultural issue about how we deal with vulnerable victims.‘We’..? Don’t you mean, how you, the establishment, the lawmakers, the state, carry out that function?
First, the majority of victims do not report what is happening to them to the relevant authorities.And those that do are ignored. So let’s concentrate on those first, eh? Then maybe the others might come forward.
The second feature common to cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation is that when individuals do pluck up the courage to come forward they are often met with a wall of disbelief.Well, maybe that’s because some of the accounts are indeed unbelievable, and some of the people themselves are seriously doubtful, as Anna Raccoon has exhaustively chronicled.
But so what? Should we suspend all disbelief now?
A 2002 Home Office research report into activities in Rotherham, which was “suppressed” because senior officers did not believe the information in it, recorded that the police were reluctant to respond to missing person reports. They saw them as a waste of time and regarded the young women concerned as “deviant” or “promiscuous”, and took the view that if the young people concerned were not prepared to help themselves, no further action should be taken.And I can see how some of the elder teenagers could be viewed in this light, but some of the victims were as young as 12. 12…
We need raw honesty about the cultural change required in relation to vulnerable victims. We have allowed a series of myths and stereotypes about how “real” victims behave to creep into our institutions and our decision-making.Always the opportunist, eh, Kier? Desperate to push your agenda and happy to use any opportunity to do so, no matter how inappropriate.
The case for some form of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse backed up by criminal sanctions is also overwhelming. The need for such a scheme is at its most acute where there is a conflict of interest between reporting and some other interest, such as reputation, risk of exposing previous failed responses or fear of being clear about the ethnicity of the perpetrators.Ahhhh, you were doing so well up to that bit!
And have you checked with Hugh Muir that it’s OK to even suggest that this might have been a factor?
Denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.