Andrew Smith MP today succeeded in getting an urgent question in the House of Commons, requiring the Government to send a Cabinet Minister to provide answers.
The points Andrew pressed the Secretary of State for Education on are set out below:
Does the Secretary of State agree that the victims who so bravely testified, the 370 other children identified at risk, their families and the public, horrified that these crimes were allowed to continue unchecked for so many years, are owed answers to crucial questions which this Serious Care Review could not address:
1) How was it that there was a culture in the County Council and Police whereby such serious incidents were not escalated to senior officers?
2) How was it that a professional tolerance of under-age sexual activity developed, as the report says, to the extent that it contributed to failure to stop the abuse?
3) Who takes responsibility for the catastrophic failings? The Chief Constable and the Council Chief Executive have apologised, but didn't know what was happening. In any case, the Chief Constable is moving on. The former Directors of Social Services and Children and Families have left. The former Leader of the Council retired. The Lead Member for Children's Services has been reshuffled. In recent weeks of chaos, the Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Council saw her position made redundant at the end of January, only for the Council Leader last week to admit they'd made a hash of it and the situation has to be reviewed.
Does the Secretary of State agree that the much commendable work done by the Council, the Police and other agencies to improve protection and prosecution since the Bullfinch investigation, cannot distract from the horrors of what went wrong?
Failure to act on clear evidence of organised child sexual exploitation, failure to provide protection to children, failure to draw serious issues to the attention of senior management, failure to heed the concerns of junior staff, chaotic arrangements for child protection, unminuted meetings, and a professional disregard for the illegality of young girls forced to have sex with older men.
Isn't it the case that the SCR is based largely on the evidence of the internal management reviews undertaken by the agencies concerned? Should these not be subjected to wider independent scrutiny?
Doesn't the public interest, and redress for victims, dictate that those responsible for these failings are fully held to account, and all the lessons learnt? Will the government set up an independent enquiry into what went wrong, and who made the mistakes which enabled this depraved exploitation of vulnerable girls to go on for so long — so that the lessons are truly learned from these awful crimes and the failure of public bodies to provide the protection it was their duty to provide to children suffering such unspeakable abuse?