Rotherham MBC officers did not have ‘sufficient resources, systems or policies’ to adequately investigate concerns about taxi licensing, a report has found.
The report by legal firm Weightmans was published today, three years after Professor Alexis Jay publically identified the link between taxis and child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.
However, Rotherham MBC had been alerted to links between the taxi service and CSE by a Home Office researcher in 2002, Dr Angie Heal in March 2006 and an email in November 2010.
Author of the Weightmans report, John Riddell, wrote: ‘These reports were in the hands of Rotherham MBC but do not appear to have been shared with those responsible for taxi licensing and enforcement.’
Mr Riddell found the taxi licensing management department ‘suffered difficulties with a divided site, staff shortages and staff absence’.
He continued: ‘I have identified individual failures but there was a collective failure by licensing enforcement and management to confront the problem.
‘The senior managers responsible for enforcement, Dave Richmond and Mark Ford, were not aware of the full extent of the problem with CSE and the taxi service.
‘Given the amount of circumstantial evidence surrounding CSE, they should have made further enquiries which might well have revealed the problem and deficiencies in enforcement.’
However, Mr Riddell added that there were ‘mitigating factors for this failure,’ including that neither knew the full extent of the problem and that both took proactive measures when they became aware of difficulties.