Thursday, 28 April 2016


The revelations of a toxic culture of cover up and denial and blame in the South Yorkshire police force, which are now revealed following the Hillsborough inquests, contribute greatly to our understanding of what went wrong in Rotherham, a town served by that same police force, where young people were ruthlessly sexually exploited without effective action by the police and other agencies to protect them.

Clearly on that fateful day in 1989 terrible mistakes – errors of judgement - were made in the policing of the football match. If only the reaction of the police had been to be immediately open and frank about the disaster, to be honest about what may have gone wrong and to look for safety lessons, not scapegoats, it could all have been so different. A great deal of needless unbearable pain and suffering could have been avoided.

Whether it be football crowd control or responding to child abuse and neglect, the message from recent events is clear. There are no greater enemies of public safety than secrecy, fear, blame, denial, conspiracy and self-protection.