MP calls for social worker chief to face action after damning report into Rochdale child sex ring scandal

By Jeremy Culley

Despite resigning from his post following a report published into the Rochdale sex ring scandal, the senior manager responsible for failing social workers should be punished, an MP claimed today.

The council’s ex-Director of Targeted Services, Steve Garner, quit his post after a report by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board was published last week revealing the failures of the area’s social services between 2007 and 2012.

Simon Danczuk MP believes the council should not be allowing senior managers to ‘sneak’ away without being held to account for their failings.

“Obviously, questions hang over his role in the culture of neglect within social services, which let down so many young girls,” said Mr Danczuk.

“The council has to explain their part in this and I will also be calling for him to be brought before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee for questioning.”

Among the findings was information that the council had received more than 100 warnings of children being sexually abused without acting and that social workers felt the victims – some as young as 13 – were ‘making their own choices’.

Meanwhile, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stressed that the adult involved in sexual abuse cases is always culpable.

Nine men were jailed earlier this year for grooming young girls in Rochdale, with 47 children identified as victims.

Mr Danczuk said that after 11 years working with Rochdale Children’s Social Care Services Mr Garner has questions to answer.

The committee, chaired by Keith Vaz, has asked the council to explain how individuals responsible will be held to account.

Jon Brown, the sexual abuse lead for the NSPCC, dismissed suggestions that children could ever engage in consensual sexual activity.

He said: “No one can consent to sexual abuse, whatever their age, and children under 16 can never consent to sex.

“The adult involved must always be held fully responsible.

“These vulnerable girls were groomed and exploited and should have been treated as victims from the start.”

Mr Garner – whose last day in the job is today – sent a message to colleagues announcing his departure, and outlined the fond memories he would have of Rochdale, as well as the new opportunities he will pursue, sentiments Mr Danczuk thinks missed the point.

“The reality is he leaves behind young girls still coming to terms with the terrible abuse that his department deliberately turned a blind eye to,” said Mr Danczuk.

The report blamed deficiencies among front-line staff and found that, while many different agencies were aware of child sex exploitation, they were not adequately coordinated to share and act upon the intelligence.

Mr Brown called for local safeguarding boards to pool information to ensure cases are not dealt with in isolation but contribute to a bigger picture.

He did praise the council, however, for being forthright in publishing the report and welcomed the strides they have already made to stop these failings occurring again.

Rochdale Council said Mr Garner will be cooperating with the ongoing review and any related future investigation.

Council Chief Executive Jim Taylor said they were undertaking a review of senior positions and said Mr Garner would not receive a redundancy payment after deciding the time was right to take on a new challenge.

According to the NSPCC, 72% of sexually abused children do not tell anyone about their suffering at the time, while a third have still not shared their experiences when they reach adulthood.

Children who are the victims of abuse always have someone to turn to. Trained ChildLine counsellors are available around the clock and can be contacted on 0800 1111 or at

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