Rotherham abuse scandal: David Cameron calls for under-fire police commissioner Shaun Wright to 'resign and take responsibility'

In light of increasing pressure on Mr Wright, his deputy has resigned and called on him to follow suit

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The Independent Online

David Cameron has added his voice to calls for under-fire South Yorkshire police commissioner Shaun Wright to quit in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

The Prime Minister's intervention comes as it was revealed in a damning report that 1,400 children were abused in Rotherham over the course of 16 years.

On Thursday evening, Mr Wright's deputy, Tracey Cheetham, announced she was resigning in light of the devastating report - and called on Mr Wright to follow suit.

She said she felt "unable to continue" in the role and added: "It is vital for people to have confidence in the office of police and crime commissioner and, with this in mind, I believe it would have been the right thing for Shaun Wright to resign."

But Mr Wright continued to ignore calls for him to quit, as did Joyce Thacker, the under-pressure head of Rotherham's children's services since 2008, who issued a staunch defence of her record.

Their defiance comes as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she was "appalled" at the abuse exposed in Rotherham, and announced that Ofsted would carry out an early inspection of child protection services in the town.

Mr Wright, a former Labour councillor and the Rotherham Council cabinet member for children's services between 2005 and 2010, became police commissioner in 2012.

Speaking today, Mr Cameron said of Mr Wright that "the right decision would be to resign and take full responsibility for what happened".

Yesterday Labour issued Mr Wright with an ultimatum to quit or face suspension from the party, and Theresa May said he should "heed calls to resign" the police post.

Describing the wider report into more than a decade and a half of widespread child abuse in the Yorkshire town as "deeply shocking", Mr Cameron added: "I think the Home Secretary (Theresa May) was right yesterday to say, having looked at the report, the fact that the police commissioner was at the time head of children's services, that the right decision would be to resign and take full responsibility for what happened."

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, had earlier also called for Mr Wright to stand down.

Speaking on his weekly LBC radio phone-in show, he said: "As Theresa May said, she can't tell the police and crime commissioner, who clearly should do the decent thing and stand aside, to do so.

Video: 'Wright should take responsibility and step down' - Nick Clegg

"All we can do, which is what I'm doing now, which is what everybody's doing, across parties, is to say 'please, do the decent thing and stand aside because you have to take responsibility and then let's try... to go after the perpetrators."

Meanwhile, the under-fire police force at the centre of the scandal has faced fresh criticism for failing to protect vulnerable victims of crime.

South Yorkshire Police's public protection unit (PPU), which handles sex crimes such as rape, honour-based violence and domestic abuse, had an "unacceptable" culture that saw officers spending a lot of time trying to disprove allegations, a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said.