Despite immense political pressure, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright still remains in his post - but has resigned from the Labour Party.
The Commissioner was responsible for children’s services at Rotherham Council during a five-year period in which children in the town were victims of child sexual exploitation.
Over 1400 youngsters were groomed, gang-raped, abused and threatened with murder by gangs of Pakistani men over 16 years.
The PCC issued a statement late last night informing people of his intention to stand firm.
He said: ““I formally tender my resignation from the Labour Party. However, I remain committed to, and intend to remain in, my role as an Independent Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.”
“I entered into public service over 20 years ago to make a positive difference. Protecting vulnerable people has been my number one priority as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire. I have had to make the difficult decision to stand down from the Labour Party and it’s with deep regret that I’ve come to that decision.”
There is no mechanism that could remove the Commissioner from his £85,000 role of public protection until elections take place in 2016.
Calls are now being made for the Home Secretary to launch a police investigation in to the Commissioner himself.
Bassetlaw Labour backbencher John Mann wants Wright to be charged with misconduct in public office. He made an announcement on social media site Twitter as follows: “Letter going early morning asking Home Secretary to refer my complaint of misconduct in public office (re Rotherham) to another police force.”
He added: “The law is clear: Sean [sic] Wright and others can be charged with misconduct in public office.”
A petition has also been launched calling for a resignation, supported by Breitbart, London. It quickly gathered over 1100 names as word spread on social media.
The beleaguered Commissioner continued in his statement: “I’ve dedicated my career and life to serving the public of South Yorkshire. As a father, and a citizen of South Yorkshire, my thoughts are with the victims and their families and I reiterate my apology to them and take full responsibility for my part in the collective failures which took place at Rotherham Council during the time I was in office and indeed to that end I resigned in 2010.
“I stand by my earlier comments that I’ve taken that experience to deliver a major transformation in the way South Yorkshire Police deals with horrific crimes such as child sexual exploitation, and much progress has been made since I was elected as Commissioner in terms of supporting victims, taking preventive action, increasing awareness of the issue and bringing criminals to justice.
“I was elected to deliver the people’s policing and crime priorities in South Yorkshire and I intend to see that duty through by leading the force on that urgent, and fundamental, journey of improvement for the sake of past, present and potential victims, who are the most important people in all of this.”
Mr Wright was allegedly aware of claims of abuse early in his council cabinet post, but has spoken of his shock at discovering the scale of the problem, revealed in full in an independent report releasaed this week by Professor Alexis Jay.
Both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire police have said that fear of being labelled racist played a part in their early dismissal of the abuse claims.