Shaun Wright
Shaun WrightSouth Yorkshire Police

The police commissioner accused of failing to protect hundreds of children from abuse in Rotherham has resigned from the Labour party, but is refusing to step down from his current role.

South Yorkshire Police PCC Shaun Wright has faced frequent calls to resign from his own party, council members and the home Secretary Theresa May, following the publication of a report which revealed more than 1,400 children suffered "appalling" abuse in Rotherham for 16 years.

Wright, who was head of children's services from 2005 to 2010 before being elected South Yorkshire PCC in 2012, said he was "very sorry" for the abuse the young victims suffered during this time, but believes he should not have to stand down from his current role as he already resigned from the council in 2010 after admitting his part in "the collective failures" which led to the abuse.

Amid increasing calls for him to resign as PCC, the Labour Party threatened to suspended Wright if he did not voluntarily stand down.

Wright, a former Labour councillor for Rotherham, has now announced he has resigned from the Labour party, but added he will "remain committed to, and intend to remain in" his current role as PCC.

He said: "I entered into public service over twenty 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.

"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."

He added: "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."

The announcement arrived after the home secretary suggested Wright should "take heed" and resign as PCC.

The shadow policing minister, Jack Dromey, and Labour MP Simon Danczuk are also among those calling for Wright's resignation.

Labour MP John Mann also said he will refer Wright for a criminal investigation over claims of misconduct in a public place.

The damming report into child sexual exploitation (CSE) at Rotherham by Professor Alexis Jay revealed how 1,400 hundred children were abused, mainly by Asian men, over a period of 16 years.

The report said the children were abused thanks to a catalogue of failures by authorities, including police treating victims with "contempt" and council members being afraid of being labelled racist if they highlighted the ethnicity of the perpetrators.

Council leader Roger Stone stepped down from his role immediately after the report was published.