Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report details the ways in which the victims of child sexual abuse were failed in Rochdale between 1960 and 1996.
“We acknowledge that, certainly in the case of Knowl View School, there were significant failures of leadership and management and a failure to investigate concerns in order to protect children.
“While the inquiry found no evidence of cover-ups or political pacts, it is clear from its report that council officers and school staff failed in their most basic duty of care towards children.
“Although the failure to understand the risks at the time was not unique to Rochdale, the consequences of the failures for the children involved were exceptionally serious.
“The council has apologised and acknowledged that children were failed. I repeat that apology today and say again that we are truly sorry.
“The fact that we have a national inquiry into child sexual abuse is to be welcomed. A lot of what was heard during the inquiry was already known to us. In 2014 the council commissioned its own independent review into Knowl View and the evidence from that was provided to IICSA after it announced its Rochdale investigation. As an authority we have given IICSA our full support.
“We must all be vigilant to child sexual abuse and exploitation and with the police and other partners continue to strengthen our work in prevention, disruption and prosecution to keep children safe.
“The council and its partners, through the local safeguarding board, regularly review their effectiveness in protecting children against national guidance. There have been significant improvements in practice here and nationally since the time of these terrible events so people should be reassured that child protection services and society’s understanding of abuse have already changed far beyond what they were then.
“The council will now consider the inquiry’s report in full and will make further statements when it has had the opportunity to do so.”
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 the council in September 2017.