UK

Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire Police And Crime Commissioner, Resigns Over Rotherham Child Abuse

16/09/2014 10:24 BST | Updated 16/09/2014 10:59 BST

Shaun Wright has stepped down as South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner after weeks of pressure over the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal, his office has announced.

Mr Wright resisted calls to resign for weeks after the publication of a report that found 1,400 children suffered appalling abuse in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Before becoming commissioner, he was in charge of children's services at Rotherham Council from 2005 to 2010, when the abuse was taking place.

shaun wright police

Shaun Wright resisted calls to resign for weeks

Though the council leader resigned after the damning report was published, Mr Wright clung on, despite being suspended from - and having to leave - the Labour party, which said he should resign.

But in a statement released today by his office, Mr Wright resigned, saying: "My role as South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner has clearly become prominent in terms of public opinion and media coverage following the publication of Professor Alexis Jay's report.

"This is detracting from the important issue, which should be everybody's focus - the 1,400 victims outlined in the report - and in providing support to victims and bringing to justice the criminals responsible for the atrocious crimes committed against them.

"With this in mind, I feel that it is now right to step down from the position of police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, for the sake of those victims, for the sake of the public of South Yorkshire and to ensure that the important issues outlined in the report about tackling child sexual exploitation can be discussed and considered in full and without distraction."

Mr Wright faced angry scenes last week as he appeared in public before the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, which oversees his work, as alleged victims of abuse shouted at him from the public gallery.

At times the meeting had to be stopped for appeals to be made for people to calm down as screams of derision were directed at the commissioner as he explained himself in Rotherham's council chamber.

The commissioner did not stick around at the end of the meeting to hear the Panel pass another vote of no confidence in him and endorse calls for a change in the law to enable him to be sacked.

The Home Secretary last week acknowledged ''there is a debate to be had'' over bringing in powers to recall PCCs.

Professor Alexis Jay's report revealed around 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham over the 16-year period, predominantly by men from the Pakistani community, and hit out at "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership.

She found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone''.

Mr Wright's resignation will trigger a by-election, the date of which is yet to be determined.

What the report on Rotherham child abuse said

What the Rotherham abuse report actually says