The sexual exploitation of teenage girls was “endemic” in Sheffield during the early 2000s, a former care home worker has claimed.
She told the BBC that girls were passed around organised groups of men and trafficked to other cities.
Her claims follow the publication of a report showing 1,400 children were sexually abused in nearby Rotherham.
Sheffield Council said it had taken action and South Yorkshire Police said it was working on 173 abuse cases.
Ruth, who has used a pseudonym to protect the identity of those who were in her care, worked at a home in the city for two years from 2002 until 2004.
Offered to menShe said her colleagues were powerless to stop the youngsters, aged between 13 and 14 years old, meeting groups of older men she said were of Asian heritage.
In one instance, she said a perpetrator rang the care home to describe the location of a girl who had been raped and left in a park.
Ruth said: “In the unit I worked in, we had four girls and three of the girls were involved in the ring of abuse.
“They would go out with the one person they trusted and thought they were building a relationship with, thought they were in love with.
“They were told how beautiful and lovely they were… and then they would be offered to other men in the circle or taken out of the city to pre-arranged areas to be used.”
Ruth said many of the care staff she worked with tried to protect the girls.
But she said: “You can’t drag them back in, you can’t force them back in, all you can try and do is persuade them that you want to keep them safe.
“And occasionally some of the care workers would go out in cars and drive around and just see if we could see the girls, which put us at great risk, but we were so desperate and so frustrated with the lack of anything being done for them.
173 investigations“It was endemic… it was absolutely endemic throughout.
“I think the whole system failed the girls. Completely and utterly failed.”
Sheffield City Council said its child sexual exploitation service had taken action at the time including offering counselling and one-to-one work, as well as individual plans to support young people.
“These plans included how any adults suspected of being involved in the sexual exploitation of young people were to be monitored, and information passed to the police,” a council spokesman said.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said there were currently 173 live investigations into child exploitation across South Yorkshire and it took allegations of child abuse “extremely seriously”.
“We continue to encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual violence or anyone who believes that they have information about this type of crime to come forward,” he said.