Popinjay n. a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter.
Professor Alexis Jay has fallen victim to the popinjays ‘having a pop’ within a day of being appointed to take an exhilarating ride on the pointy end of the Exocet nowÂ aimed at the ageing artifactsÂ of historical sexual abuse.
Her 30-year background in social work has, however, angered some abuse survivor groups, who say that they were not consulted and are concerned about her ability to investigate the past failures of her own profession.
âWe are seriously considering seeking a judicial review of the appointment â it is a real possibility. If you do not involve people in the process then they are bound to feel suspicious and circumspect.â
She came to fame having identified 1400 victims of sexual abuse in Rotherham, a town of some quarter of a million souls. Having read and re-read her report, I am still not clear in my mind whether that was 1400 reported incidents of sexual abuse, or 1400 individual victims as the media are fond of reporting. What is rarely mentioned is that this was over 16 years, or approximately 1.6 victims/incidents per week.Â
1.6 is far too many as it is obligatory to add at this point; however, 1.6 girls being groomed to believe that they were willing cohorts in prostitution in a town of a quarter of a million wouldn’t be as easy to spot as you might imagine.
Most of the publicity at the time was taken up with the fact that the men involved, both as ruthless ‘ponces’, and as customers, were Pakistani Asians. Personally I was monumentally unimpressed with this aspect at the time – I cannot see that the colour of aÂ penis makes a jot of difference to the damage done to a young girl by sexual exploitation:
Itâs not âheinousâ when carried out by Pakistani perpetrators on girls in the care of the council and âcuteâ when you pick up your Daily Mail and read of the great grandmother of 35 and 4 generations of the family now that 13 year old Sharon has given birth.
5,991 girls under the age of 16 became pregnant in 2011 â that is just the figure for those who didnât take the morning after pill, and didnât use contraceptionâ¦
That makes an awful lot of you reading this who should be looking at their own complicity in allowing âchild abuseâ before calling for heads to roll over Rotherham. The decent âbackgroundâ attached to that penis your son or daughter was playing with last night doesnât make it any âdifferentâ you know.
Since those days, our inner racist has undergone a certain amount of bloodletting with the Referendum, and the jailing of several members of the Rotherham ‘grooming gangs’ and I thought I would take a look back at Rotherham and see how the other end of the ‘abuse conundrum’ – the act of caring for girls by the state – has fared.
There are/were five children’s homes in Rotherham. The Jay report made clear that the focus of the ‘grooming gangs’ was primarily on the vulnerable girls being cared for by the state. What has been the State’s response to this dereliction of duty on its part? Virtually nil, apart from a lot of sub-reports being commissioned, written and re-written.
Two years, two bloody years, after the Jay report, after the jailing of the ‘grooming gangs’, those vulnerable girls were still wandering around the streets. The staff at the homes still didn’t have any effective means of locking up their proxy-daughters. Here is the Ofsted report for Woodview childrenâs home.
Staff lacked awareness of young peopleâs risks, injuries to young people were not robustly investigated, and the homeâs procedures when children went missing were âineffectiveâ.
It is unclear how the risks of sexual exploitation are identified, assessed, and reviewed. This is a significant risk to young peopleâs safety as potentially this issue remains unknown. A requirement set around risk assessments and evaluating risk has not been met.
A month later, St Edmunds Home was inspected:
This young person had experienced numerous missing person incidents while placed at St Edmunds and the Ofsted inspector was not satisfied that we had taken appropriate action to address this and that joint working with the Police on this case had appeared to break down. Ofsted issued a âcompliance noticeâ in relation to our practice at the home in relation to missing young people with a deadline date for compliance.
Both homes have now been closed as a direct result of having failed their Ofsted inspections and being judged ‘inadequate’. The children have been moved to ‘alternative’ accommodation. It took two years before that happened.
There is absolutely no point in having headline making reports, nor headline making court cases, if you are not going to address the fact that those 1400 girls who were sexually abused were all in care, and did, however misguidedly, legally wrong, or groomed, end up abused because they willingly submitted to that abuse initially. Pakistani Asians didn’t invent prostitution. They didn’t drag the girls screaming out of those homes. There are other issues to be addressed here besides the matter of how old Mohammed’s bride was.
That insipid outcome was the result of Alexis Jay spending a year writing a report on sexual exploitation within one institutionÂ in a town of 250,000. The result was 160 pages.
Now she has been asked to study a population of 60,000,000; every major institution in our country – the three branches of the armed forces, the church, every state run children’s home, every school, every hospital. In addition, the ‘Truth Project’ sector of the inquiry is mandated to look at accounts of child abuse within families – believed to form 90% of all child abuse.
It will make the Chilcot report look like an airport read. The newspapers will feed on it for months to come. PhDs will be awarded for analysing it. Lawyers will put their children through protected private schools on the strength of the fees. Documentary makers will pay their next year’s mortgage on the back of it. Possibly a few heads will roll, certainly a few elderly people will end their days in jail.
Will any of that make young children safer from sexual exploitation?
Even the most simple minded goatherd learns to stop tethering his goat-kid on an unattended hillside eventually…