16 Sep 2014

What took you so long, Shaun Wright?

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Shaun Wright is a man who takes a while to work out what is the best, the right thing to do.

He has decided “it is now right” to step down from his role as South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner following the revelation that more than 1,400 children were groomed and sexually exploited in Rotherham, where he was head of children’s services of the local council for five years.

It’s not clear why now, rather than at any point after the publication of Professor Alexis Jay’s damning report into the abuse was published three weeks ago today.

The report was fiercely critical of all the authorities in Rotherham, particularly the local council.

Mr Ŵright has never been able to properly explain  why he and others who, the report made clear, were aware that girls were  being abused, didn’t act more quickly to stop it.

When I spoke to him just after the publication of Professor Jay’s report and asked why he refused to take responsibility, he kept saying: “I did step down from the council.”

Yes, he did. But it took years.

Following the publication of the Jay report in August, Jackie Long questioned Shaun Wright over why he had accepted calls for his resignation. You can see the clip below.

This time it’s taken “just” three weeks, despite calls for him to resign from victims, their families, his own Labour party and the prime minister, no less.

Today’s statement says his role as PCC has now become a distraction and that the focus needs to be on the victims of child sexual exploitation.

It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t say sorry for his own failure to act. Or why it’s only now that he’s worked out it’s the children who were raped and abused, some by many men over many years, that should be the focus of effort and attention.

But as I said, it does seem to take him a while to come to the right decision.

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