Ofsted inspectors lacked the focus to target child abuse in Rotherham because they had a “limited” understanding of it, an ex-watchdog director told MPs.
John Goldup, the former deputy chief inspector and national director of social care, apologised for the organisation’s failure.
He said “We did not get it right on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham… and I apologise for that.”
About 1,400 children were abused in the town from 1997 to 2013 a report found.
‘Raped and abused’
Our understanding of child sexual exploitation was limited”
John GoldupFormer Ofsted deputy chief inspector
Appearing before the Communities and Local Government Committee, Mr Goldup said: “Inspection up to the latter part of 2012 did not have the focus on child sexual exploitation that it would have and should have had if we had known and understood then what we understand now.
“What Ofsted would and should have focussed on is, giving that it [sexual exploitation] is happening, how effectively is the local authority working to try and disrupt and interrupt it to protect the children that were being raped and abused.”
He said it was not until events in late 2012, including the publication of a report in the Times newspaper highlighting the issue in Rotherham, that Ofsted fully understood the problem.
He said: “Our understanding of child sexual exploitation was limited. We knew it happened, we knew it was wicked and hugely damaging to children but it was widely perceived as a localised issue.”
However, he said that it was when Ofsted first directly went in to do a social care inspection in Rotherham in 2009 that the authority was exposed as a failing authority.
He said: “I think that does also say something about the strength and the robustness of Ofsted inspection then and subsequently, but I absolutely accept that we didn’t have the focus on child sexual exploitation that we certainly would and should have now.”