London (AFP) - South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner quit the Labour Party Thursday but refused to bow to calls for him to leave his job as anger over the Rotherham abuse scandal grew.
Shaun Wright has faced growing pressure to step down from his Â£85,000-a-year post after a damning report said that some 1,400 young people had been sexually exploited in the Yorkshire town over a 16-year period.
The alleged abuse relates to a period between 1997 and 2013 and Wright was the Rotherham cabinet member responsible for children's services between 2005 and 2010 before becoming a PCC in 2012.
In a statement Thursday Wright said he had formally tendered his resignation from the Labour Party but remained "committed" to his job as commissioner.
"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," he said.
"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 said he had overseen a "major transformation" in the way South Yorkshire Police deals with "horrific crimes such as child sexual exploitation" with progress made in supporting victims, crime prevention and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The report into historic abuse detailed "utterly appalling" incidents of gang rape, kidnapping and trafficking of girls as young as 11, and blamed local authorities for a "blatant" failure to act over child exploitation, the full scale of which is still not known.
Wright's resignation comes after shadow police minister Jack Dromey made it clear that Wright would be suspended from the Labour Party if he did not leave voluntarily.
Dromey told BBC's Newsnight late Wednesday that Wright "should resign", adding: "He had the power to act and he did not use that power to defend the powerless.
"He needs therefore to accept responsibility. If he does not resign then he will be suspended tomorrow morning."
Home Secretary Theresa May has said Wright should "heed calls" to resign as PCC, and said he had "real questions to answer".
The role of a PCC -- elected by voters -- is to hold the police to account on behalf of the public and provide a link between constabulary and communities.
Rotherham Borough Council leader Roger Stone quit immediately after the report was published on Tuesday.
The inquiry was commissioned by the council following the conviction of five men in 2010 for sexual offences, including grooming teenage girls for sex.