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Our response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

18 April 2018

Hearing room door plaque.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report into failings in Rochdale institutions between 1960 and 1996 is to be considered by us ahead of a formal response.

The report released on Thursday, 12 April 2018 highlighted significant historic failures of leadership and management and how council officers and school staff from the time covered by the report had failed to protect children.

We began our own independent review into the failings in 2014 and apologised to the victims before the start of the IICSA hearings in October 2017.

Although IICSA made no recommendations to us, its report will be considered by us and our councillors so that a formal response can be given. On Wednesday, 25 April 2018 the inquiry intends to publish an interim report on its work to date, which may make recommendations to all organisations covered. To the extent they relate to Rochdale or more generally, we will also take this into account in our response.

IICSA’s Rochdale report will be presented to a scrutiny meeting, which will include an opportunity for all councillors to discuss the findings.

We will also outline the significant changes that have been made in child protection services in the borough of Rochdale in recent years. Evidence of these changes were provided to IICSA but were not included in its report. Since 2012 a number of Ofsted inspections have acknowledged the progress in improving child protection services that has been made by us. All recognised that continual improvements had been made.

Alongside this, the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) completes an annual audit of compliance with safeguarding requirements. The most recent example evidenced high levels of compliance with statutory safeguarding requirements across all agencies in the borough of Rochdale.

The date and time of the meeting will be arranged after the local elections in May 2018.

Notes to editors

  • Cambridge House was an independently operated ‘hostel for working boys’ in Castlemere Street in Rochdale that operated from 1960 to 1965 and was not run by Rochdale Council.
  • Knowl View was a residential school for boys that operated from 1969 to 1994, closing formally in 1996. Children were placed there by Rochdale, Oldham and Bolton and Lancashire councils.
  • In April 2014 the council announced that it was carrying out a review of its decision making in relation to Knowl View School.
  • The review was later widened following a number of serious allegations made in the media and Sir Neil Garnham was appointed to lead it. Sir Neil was a leading QC in public inquiry law, having acted as counsel to the Victoria Climbie Inquiry and now sits as a Justice of the High Court.
  • The Garnham Review was subsequently responsible for triggering an investigation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), who requested in July 2014 that the council suspend the review and pass all evidence to them.
  • In November 2015 the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) announced 12 investigations, including one into Rochdale.
  • In March 2016 the council closed the Garnham Review on the basis that its remit had been subsumed into the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). An interim report produced by Sir Neil was passed to the national inquiry.
  • Prior to the start of the Rochdale hearing the council reviewed more than 140,000 pages of documents, which were also shared with the inquiry.
  • A 130-page council statement was submitted to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearings.
  •  Apology issued by us in September 2017 -

Steve Rumbelow, our chief executive, said: “The events that took place at Cambridge House and Knowl View and other establishments in Rochdale have cast a long shadow over the town for many years and have undoubtedly caused pain to many people.

"The council acknowledges that there were significant failings, both in the way that Knowl View School was managed, and in the council’s response to concerns about sexual abuse within and outside the school.

"That was, frankly, unforgivable. On behalf of Rochdale Borough Council, I would like to apologise sincerely to anyone who was failed by the council during those years."

"We cannot turn the clock back. But as the current chief executive of the council, working with the director of children’s services and partner agencies such as the police, and through the Rochdale Safeguarding Children’s Board, I can make sure that we continue do our level best to safeguard our children and young people now and in the future.

“The council is doing everything it can to support and work with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its task and I hope that it can help us fully understand what happened in Rochdale all those years ago.”

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