Rotherham

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More than 650 child sexual exploitation referrals to South Yorkshire Police in under a year

Published March 23, 2015 by misty534

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More than 650 suspected cases of child sexual exploitation have been referred to South Yorkshire Police in less than a year, new figures reveal.

Between April 2014 and February 2015, 188 reports were made in Sheffield, 176 in Barnsley, 134 in Doncaster and 132 in Rotherham.

There were a further 28 reports linked to grooming incidents believed to have happened across more than one district of South Yorkshire.

All the referrals have been investigated, with 244 offences recorded across South Yorkshire – 74 in Doncaster, 68 in Rotherham, 64 in Sheffield and 38 in Barnsley.

As a result, 38 people have been charged or summoned to court, with three given a caution.

Police said a number of investigations are still ongoing and further charges will be brought.

Details have been released by South Yorkshire Police as part of its efforts to raise awareness about child sexual exploitations and the force’s work.

One victim today said a planned investigation into the conduct of the force is needed to restore public confidence.

“I do think the police are sometimes a little bit stuck because they have to abide by the law and everybody blames them when it is partly down to the CPS,” she said.

“There have been 244 offences and only 41 have been charged – that means some are walking about scot-free.”

She added: “I don’t think people trust the police still. A report needs to be done into the police to start moving on – the past needs to be dealt with.

“The council are now starting to get on board and put things in place.”

There are 189 live investigations still running across the county, including 50 in Sheffield, 46 in Rotherham and 39 in Barnsley. Doncaster has the highest number of ongoing investigations, with 54 taking place. It comes as Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett spoke of his ‘sadness’ at the length of time it took police officers concerned about the way child sexual exploitation was handled in the city to speak out.

Mr Blunkett said he hopes police past and present will take heed of the pledge by The Reverend Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, that if they come forward with information they will be ‘listened to and taken seriously’.

Dr Billings urged current and former officers to come forward after retired detective Tony Brookes went public with claims that senior police officers in Sheffield ignored efforts to open inquiries into child sexual exploitation in the city. Mr Brookes claimed the force spent money set aside for tackling child abuse on crimes including robbery, car crime and burglary to meet government targets.

Leaked documents reveal police chiefs in Sheffield knew the names of 200 possible abuse victims between 2007 and 2010 but a lack of police action to find the perpetrators.

Mr Blunkett said: “I am extremely sad that those who provided further worrying revelations felt unable to do so earlier, including ex-police officers.

“I know that the new process set up by the commissioner will place emphasis on a trustworthy and robust mechanism now to provide information privately, to be taken seriously and to avoid the ‘drip drop’ approach which is so corrosive.”

Chris Burn & Claire Lewis

Everyone needs to look for signs of child sexual exploitation’ – East Riding councillor Kerri Harold

Published February 17, 2015 by misty534

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THE chairman of a review into child safeguarding issues in the East Riding says everyone should take responsibility for looking out for signs of child sexual exploitation.

Councillor Kerri Harold spoke out after councillors formally accepted 34 recommendations made by a panel set up in the wake of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

She said: “We went into the review looking for any gaps or loopholes and to make sure we understood the procedures currently in place in the East Riding.

“The one thing we did not want to be was complacent.

“We were also determined this should not be the end, this is just the beginning because times are changing.”

Cllr Harold said members of the community have a duty to look out for, and report, signs that children are being exploited.

“The way young people interact with new technology means the problem of child sexual exploitation is no longer just about someone lurking on a street corner.

“It could be that someone is there in the bedroom or in the living room because there is no escape from the technology being used by young people.

“If any of us think it’s the responsibility of one person to take the lead on safeguarding, they are wrong.

“We have got to accept we need a multi-agency approach from organisations like ourselves and the police but we need everyone in the community to play their part, too.

“They hold the key because people must have the confidence to come forward and report things.

“The solution is out there in the community.”

The review generally gave the current procedures a clean bill of health.

It also revealed an increasing number of children in the East Riding are assessed as being at risk of child sexual exploitation.

In 2013-14, there were 71 cases compared with just five in 2011-12.

The review said the increase was almost certainly due to increased awareness of child sexual exploitation issues among both professionals and the public.

Cllr Harold said the review had not examined the background of three former senior Rotherham safeguarding officers who currently work for the East Riding.

The trio include Pam Allen, who is head of children and young people’s support services at County Hall.

Cllr Harold said: “The purpose of the review was to look at the current procedures in the East Riding. That was our remit.

“Our role was to look at the here and now and to have put the focus on any particular officer for their work with another authority would have been wrong, in my opinion.”

Councillor Stephen Lane described the continuing media coverage over the three officers as “distracting”.

Kevin Hall, the council’s director of children, family and schools, said the authority had an “outstanding” working relationship with Humberside Police over safeguarding issues.

“The panel has done a very thorough job of work looking at all the processes involved but I cannot guarantee that new cases will not come forward because, unfortunately, they will,” he said.

Trend reveals low number of risk cases

THE review included a snapshot of current child sexual exploitation cases across the East Riding using intelligence gathered from a number of partner agencies.

It found a low number of cases where children are assessed as being at “high risk”.

Typically, girls were more likely to speak up and raise concerns than boys.

Cases are also scattered across the county, not just in towns and larger settlements.

However, there have been more recent cases reported in Bridlington and Goole.

Most cases involve lone white male perpetrators.

Unlike Rotherham and other recent high-profile cases, gang-related exploitation is not identified as a problem in the East Riding. However, agencies have reported an increase in cases linked to parties where alcohol and drugs are freely available.

Hull Daily Mail

Child sexual exploitation: implications for adult social care and safeguarding boards

Published February 11, 2015 by misty534

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The repercussions from child sexual exploitation reverberate into adulthood, says Angie Heal, so adult social care needs to understand the issue and respond effectively

The publication of the Jay report in September 2014 was another watershed moment in child protection. The revelation that over 1,400 children were sexually exploited over a 16-year period in Rotherham shocked the nation and has been the subject of worldwide attention. Rotherham is not an isolated case: Rochdale, Oxford, Derby and Reading have all hit the headlines following prosecutions for child sexual exploitation (CSE). All local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) should now be conducting enquiries to understand the size and nature of CSE locally.

The focus of political, media and public interest has rightly been on the response of children’s social care and LSCBs, in conjunction with their police partners. But now is a time to reflect further about the implications. These children grow up; they reach the age of 18 – or 21 in the case of children who are looked after by local authorities – when they are no longer the responsibility of children’s services. Adult social care and safeguarding adult boards (SABs) need to be aware of child and adult sexual exploitation, understand the issue locally and develop a proactive and effective response, at both a strategic and individual level. Adult services and SABs should learn from the CSE research and policy reports (including a report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Jay report, and the Casey report into Rotherham Council); findings are transferable to the adult care milieu.

Adult victims

In essence, there are two groups of adult victims. First, those who continue to be abused by perpetrators once they turn 18 or 21, and who should subsequently become the subject of a safeguarding adult enquiry. Second, survivors who are no longer being abused but disclose previous CSE, to which the statutory adult agencies have a duty to respond. Even when the sexual, physical and psychological abuse has stopped, the majority will require some level of care and support as adults because of issues including mental ill health, self-harm, problematic use of illicit drugs or alcohol, interrupted education resulting in no or low paid jobs and economic insecurity.

Parents and siblings may also be traumatised and have suffered abuse from perpetrators. Victims may have a child fathered by a perpetrator, who may or may not be in their care. Whilst the focus has wholly been on white girls, those who are far less likely to report such crimes should not be ignored: these include girls from black and minority ethnic groups, and boys of all ethnic origins.

Transition arrangements

As children, victims may already be in receipt of services. This may be as a result of having a child protection plan, learning or physical disabilities, mental health problems, being a looked-after child, reporting to the youth offending service or being in secure accommodation, for example. Transition arrangements should be more effective as a result of the Care Act 2014, which should regulate the move from children’s to adults’ services for those who are eligible. Each local area should satisfy itself that it is adequately prepared to respond; the Casey Report expressed significant unease about Rotherham services:

“We have serious concerns about the group of young people during their transition to adulthood: that is, over 18. It was unclear to inspectors what happens to victims of CSE at this point. [Rotherham Council] do not view these young people as victims with ongoing support needs, and instead see their role in terms of a statutory children’s social care responsibility which ends when the children turn 18.

Some interviewees suggested that services were just turned off. Adult services did not have an effective system in place to ensure a smooth and effective transition for this vulnerable group. Indeed, the criteria for receiving adult services mean that the victims may not meet the need for continued support even though they remain vulnerable, and in some cases continue to be sexually exploited.” (p93)

Human consequences

The human consequences of the failings of statutory services to protect children in Rotherham has been monumental. As well as the trauma to the victims and their families, perpetrators have been allowed to continue unabated; the local Asian community and the people in Rotherham in general have been stigmatised and devastated by what has happened; the reputations of Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police have been savaged; workers and officers demoralised. The financial costs of failing to proactively address CSE are also huge, with class action being taken by survivors.

No one should underestimate the ordeal victims have undergone, nor the challenges they face in recovery. The support of all relevant adult services, therefore, is vital in order to promote their well-being and prevent, reduce or delay the onset of further needs.

Angie Heal is a director of Policy Partners Project. As a former employee of South Yorkshire Police, she wrote reports in relation to child sexual exploitation. As a result she was a witness in the Jay and Casey inquiries, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and will  also be a witness in the Independent Police Complaints Commission and National Crime Agency investigations into police office misconduct.

Rotherham scandal: IPCC to investigate 10 officers over handling of child sex claims

Published November 18, 2014 by misty534

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The police watchdog has announced it is to investigate 10 South Yorkshire police officers over their handling of child sexual exploitation in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the 10 officers – who have not been named – were identified through Professor Alexis Jay’s independent review of how child abuse allegations were handled.

Another three officers identified by an internal police review are not part of the new inquiry, an IPCC spokesman said.

Kathryn Stone, an IPCC commissioner, said: “The amount of public concern across the country about this episode and the impact on confidence in the police means it is important that a fully independent investigation is conducted to establish how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation.

“I sincerely hope that victims and their families will see this investigation as a positive step towards answering the many questions they must have.

“I have met with South Yorkshire Police and am reassured by their commitment to fully cooperate with the investigation.”

The IPCC set out how a number of potential police misconduct allegations were identified in Prof Jay’s report, which was published earlier this year.

In one case, an officer is alleged to have argued during a child protection conference against incidents being treated as sexual abuse because he thought thatthe child had been “100 per cent consensual in every incident”.

The Jay report was critical of the remarks, which related to a CID officer who had been investigating offences against a 12-year-old girl who had sex with five men.

The IPCC also said that there had been “no police activity” around a suspect who, according to intelligence records from June 2001, was threatening a family and encouraging a victim to engage in prostitution.

A spokesman for the watchdog said no officers have yet been identified in relation to this allegation.

Other allegations of misconduct centre on evidence in a 2003 rape case being lost and a failure to progress an investigation into a report of a 14-year-old girl being raped.

Two officers will be investigated over claims they failed to adequately investigate an incident of a young girl being found drunk in the back of a car, and an individual having indecent photographs of her on his mobile telephone.

In a further allegation, two officers will be examined over claims they did not adequately investigate naked images of a young girl and “possible evidence of group offending”, the IPCC spokesman said.

The controversy following Prof Jay’s report led to a series of high-profile resignations including Roger Stone, the Rotherham council leader; Martin Kimber, the council chief executive and Joyce Thacker, the director of children’s services.

The most high profile resignation was that of Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, who was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

South Yorkshire’s chief constable David Crompton has also been under pressure to explain his force’s attitude towards child sexual exploitation over the last 15 years.

Mr Crompton has pledged to investigate individual cases and stressed that his force has seen a massive increase in the number of officers and other staff devoted to tackling the crime in the last couple of years.

Last month, the the National Crime Agency (NCA) announced it would lead an investigation into outstanding allegations of child sex abuse in Rotherham.

The NCA said it was taking on the inquiry following a request from Mr Crompton.

 

David Barrett

Child sexual exploitation ‘widespread’, MPs conclude

Published November 18, 2014 by misty534

Organised child sexual exploitation (CSE) is widespread across England and local authorities need to ensure they fully investigate concerns when they arise, a report by MPs has concluded.

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The communities and local government committee report also questioned Ofsted’s ability to identify problems around CSE through the children’s services inspection process and whether councillors were sufficiently trained to properly challenge senior officers about the extent of safeguarding concerns.

The report was carried out to investigate accountability and governance issues for local government that arose from the Jay Report into CSE in Rotherham, published in August.

The committee said that after reviewing the evidence gathered by the Jay Report and hearing testimony from witnesses, it concluded that Rotherham “was not an outlier, and that there is a widespread problem of organised CSE in England”.

The report adds: “It follows that other authorities not only need to review their own arrangements in the light of the Jay Report but also the government needs to ensure that guidance and benchmarks are in place to ensure these reviews are effective and children are identified and protected.”

It also warned authorities not to hold off carrying out their own investigations into credible allegations or suspicions of organised CSE “because of the consequences of the publication of the Jay Report“.

The Rotherham Council-commissioned Jay Report estimated that between 1997 and 2013, 1,400 children and young people had been subject to organised sexual abuse, and criticised how local agencies handled concerns raised. Following publication, an independent child protection commissioner was appointed in Rotherham, an inspection of the council headed by troubled families tsarLouise Casey was launched, and the director of children’s services Joyce Thacker resigned.

Despite Thacker’s departure, the committee said the lack of action over a long timeframe meant others who previously held children’s services responsibilities but have since moved to other authorities or retired “have serious questions to answer for their conduct”.

Rotherham Council is undertaking an independent review of practice and staffing issues raised by the Jay Report. Where issues arise relating to staff no longer at the authority, the review will consider whether these should be referred to the person’s new employer and the appropriate professional bodies.

“It is our intention to review the outcome of this process,” the report adds.

The MPs said the Jay Report raised “serious questions” about the performance of Ofsted after it judged Rotherham children’s services to be “adequate” in 2012. It said it will be calling Ofsted to give evidence on its scrutiny of children’s services in Rotherham.

In addition, it criticises the failure of internal reports on the CSE risks in Rotherham to clarify the scale of the problem. It also says these should have been challenged by councillors as concerns had arisen over a number of years about CSE in the town.

“The quality of the reports from senior officers and the apparent lack of challenge by councillors raises a serious question about the adequacy of skills and training of executive councillors,” it adds.

Rotherham child sex abuse: Police ‘ripped up files’

Published November 11, 2014 by misty534

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Abuse victim Carol told BBC reporter Toby Foster her paperwork detailing her ordeal was ripped up by a police officer

Police in Rotherham tore up paperwork relating to one child sex abuse victim and stopped another from being medically examined, the BBC has been told.

One woman claimed a policeman called her a liar after she reported being abused aged 15, and the other alleges police prevented her being examined after she was abused aged 13.

Both were speaking to BBC Inside Out.

South Yorkshire Police said both cases were now with the police watchdog.

A report in September by Prof Alexis Jay found 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 by men of mainly Pakistani heritage.

The abuse they suffered included beatings, rape and trafficking to various towns and cities in England.

Two women told BBC Inside Out Yorkshire that police not only ignored, but actively obstructed investigations into their abuse.

The two cases happened eight years apart. The women, given the pseudonyms Jenny and Carol, are part of a group of 32 preparing to sue South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council.

Their cases span nearly two decades from the 1990s until 2007.

Carol was living in a children’s home in the 1990s when she was taken on occasions by taxi to an Asian restaurant in the town.

‘Called a liar’

In one incident she was subjected to a violent sexual assault by one of her abusers and was left bleeding.

Carol said: “I told the staff at the children’s home and my social worker and they said a police officer was going to to pick me up and take me to a unit.

“The officer that used to come to the children’s home [regularly], he came and picked me up in a police car.

“He took me to a lay-by; kept calling me a liar, saying he’d read my files and that I was a liar and no-one was going to believe me, it was more trouble than it was worth and he ripped my paperwork up.

“He dropped me back at an Indian restaurant… back with my abuser.”

Lawyer David Greenwood, who is acting for the women in these historical cases, said: “The evidence that I’ve seen and the girls that I’ve spoken to, tell stories that suggest to me that there’s something going on at a systematic level, where the police [were] actively preventing cases going forward against these perpetrators.”

Jenny’s mother, Julie, recalled how in 2007 her 13-year-old daughter was in regular contact with the police, but came home one Saturday night “blind drunk”.

In the morning, Julie questioned her daughter who had vague recollections of spending the evening with a much older man. Her mother collected up her clothing, which had evidence of sexual activity, and called the police.

Julie said: “They sent two police officers out and they said they would take us to a rape centre – there wasn’t one in Rotherham – to either Sheffield or Doncaster so they started taking us to Doncaster.

“On the way to Doncaster, the police got a call on the radio and said they were returning to Rotherham General Hospital.”

‘Spoil his Sunday’

She added that two CID officers came to take a statement.

“They were trying to dissuade her from making this statement by saying that the police surgeon was coming down the motorway to examine her and it was going to spoil his Sunday afternoon with his family – did she still want to go through with this statement?

“They kept going on and on at her till she said ‘No, I don’t want to do it anymore’ so the two police officers took us home and stopped at the door and said sorry.

“I had the items of clothing with me. I put them in the washing machine.”

Julie said her daughter got a shower but the hospital called asking where she was and she explained the child did not want to be dealt with by the police surgeon.

“She said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about ‘cos there’s no police officer coming down the motorway – our own doctor was going to examine her.'”

Carol says she had the paperwork relating to her attack ripped up by an officer in a police car

In a statement South Yorkshire Police said: “Our staff are now better informed than ever and we are absolutely committed to achieving justice, stopping the harm and preventing future offending.

“All frontline officers and specialist staff have now been trained in relation to child sexual exploitation and spotting the signs.

“Chief Constable David Crompton has asked the National Crime Agency (NCA) to lead an independent investigation into matters relating to the Alexis Jay report and this will be led by Trevor Pearce, NCA director of investigations.”

The statement said the terms of reference for the investigation were being finalised.

“South Yorkshire Police has referred 14 people to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and may make further referrals should the criteria be met,” it continued.

“All allegations will be investigated and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the IPCC.”

BBC news

Specialists dealing with 64 current Rotherham child sexual exploitation cases

Published November 7, 2014 by misty534

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More than 60 children in Rotherham are involved in ongoing sexual exploitation cases, new figures have revealed.

Rotherham Council’s child sexual exploitation team had 64 open cases in September – up on the 53 it was dealing with in May.

Details have been revealed in a report going to Coun Christine Beaumont, cabinet member for children and education services, on Monday.

The report also showed that 156 children have been reported to have run away from home or care between July and September, with 240 incidents recorded.

The number of children running away has increased from the first quarter of the year, when 146 young people were reported to be involved in 314 incidents.

It comes as the council’s children and young people’s service announced it is now facing a £3.5 million overspend in its budget – largely due to extra costs in placing vulnerable children in care placements away from the town, often to safeguard them from abusers.

Last month, the overspend for the year was estimated to be £2.8m – but has now increased again.

The council is spending £2.5m more than planned on providing out of authority residential placements, with an additional £359,000 going on independent fostering placements.

There are currently 32 children from Rotherham in out-of-area placements, with 106 in independent foster care.

A report by finance manager Joanne Robertson said: “The recruitment of in-house foster and adoptive carers remains a challenge and we must always ensure a high quality of placements.

“Our decisions to place children with independent fostering agencies and in residential out of authority establishments will always be in the context of the best interests of our children.

“The budget can only be an estimate given its volatile nature. For example, one out-of-authority residential placement for a child with very complex needs can now cost up to £364,000 per annum.”

Concerns were raised in the Jay Report about the practice of using out-of-area placements to protect abused children.

The inquiry said while the strategy could be successful in some cases, there were other occasions where such placements actually increased the risks to children.

Rotherham Council is also in the process of recruiting a new manager to oversee its response to child sexual exploitation cases, chairing strategy meetings and overseeing cases of missing children.

The safeguarding children leader will be paid between £35,000 and £38,000 a year.

Jay report could be tip of iceberg when it comes to child abuse – special report

Published October 24, 2014 by misty534

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It was an explosive inquiry which made headlines around the globe.

The Jay Report revealed at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been victims of sexual abuse between 1997 and 2013 – with police and council bosses being aware of the problem but failing to act.

The report also revealed that child sexual exploitation ‘continues to this day’ in Rotherham.

The political storm that followed has resulted in four resignations of senior public figures implicated in the scandal – and with a series of follow-up inquiries now ordered, the focus on Rotherham’s problems shows no sign of letting up.

Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone, who had been in charge since 2003, resigned within minutes of the report being made public.

Chief executive Martin Kimber, who had been in post since late 2009, initially refused to quit and said he was ‘part of the solution’ to Rotherham’s problems.

But two weeks after the report was published, he announced he would be stepping down at the end of the year so new leadership could ‘enable the town to recover more quickly’ from the findings of the Jay report. More determined to stay in the face of fierce criticism were Joyce Thacker, director of children’s and young people’s services at the council, and Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, who had been a councillor with responsibility for children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

Mr Wright maintained he was ‘the best person for the job’ despite calls from all three main party leaders for him to stand down.

Instead of quitting, he initially resigned from the Labour Party and said he would remain as an independent PCC. With no legal powers to remove him from the post, it appeared that Mr Wright would stay in his post until the end of his term in 2016.

Things came to a head when he was confronted by furious abuse victims and their families at a police and crime panel meeting in Rotherham.

They repeatedly called for him to go, as the panel also issued a vote of no confidence in him. Whilst Mr Wright repeated his intention to stay during the heated meeting, he quit just a few days later – but with no apology. He said the media focus on his role was ‘detracting from the important issue’ of the victims.

Mr Wright’s resignation has sparked a by-election for the now vacant post which is expected to cost taxpayers around £1.6m to stage at the end of this month, with four candidates in the running for the controversial post.

Joyce Thacker left her job days after Mr Wright, shortly after being signed off on sick leave. Mrs Thacker, who had been head of children’s services since 2008 and was deputy head for two years before that, was another to resist repeated calls to quit but finally left the council by ‘mutual agreement’ with immediate effect.

The Star revealed last week that she had been given a £40,000 pay-off to quit her role – a figure only made public through a Freedom of Information request after Rotherham Council initially refused to comment on what she got for leaving her £130,000-per-year job.

The publication of the report set off a chain of other inquiries and investigations being ordered.

Within a week of the publication of the report, the Labour party suspended four members with connections to Rotherham Council – former leader Roger Stone, serving councillors Gwendoline Russell and Shaukat Ali, and ex-deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar.

Mr Akhtar resigned as the council’s deputy leader and vice-chair of the police and crime panel last year after reports – which he denied – alleging he knew about a relationship between a relative and an under-age girl in care. He resumed his post after being cleared by the police of any blame but lost his seat in the May election to UKIP.

Its investigations into whether there had been any wrong-doing by its councillors are ongoing.

No-one from South Yorkshire Police, which was heavily criticised in the Jay report for treating victims with ‘contempt’, has yet been disciplined or suspended in relation to it.

But Chief Constable David Crompton has said a ‘number’ of referrals are being made to the IPCC, while Trevor Pearce, director of investigations for the National Crime Agency, is to lead an independent investigation into outstanding allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The Government has also ordered an inspection of Rotherham Council in the wake of the report, which is expected to report back by the end of November.

Louise Casey, who heads the Government’s Troubled Families programme, is heading the inspection and has been ordered to examine whether the council is functioning properly in the areas of governance, children’s services and taxi licensing.

She will also look into whether the authority is suffering from ‘institutionalised political correctness’, covers up information or silences whistle-blowers,

Local Government secretary Eric Pickles ordered the inspection after saying the Jay report showed the council had ‘utterly failed its children’. Additionally, the Department for Education has parachuted in an expert to oversee children’s services in Rotherham for an additional three month period. Malcolm Newsam has been appointed as children’s social care commissioner in the wake of the scandal.

A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee was published last weekend after MPs grilled key figures involved in the scandal.

It has called for a ‘full, transparent and urgent investigation’ into what has happened to missing files related to child abuse in Rotherham – especially in regard to information stolen from a council researcher’s locked office in 2002.

And Fiona Woolf, chair of a new national inquiry into historic child abuse, has confirmed the issue of the missing files will be included in her panel’s investigations.

The way South Yorkshire Police handled child exploitation cases in Sheffield is now also starting to come under the spotlight – after claims were made earlier this week that information about alleged abusers in the city was ignored by the force.

Ann Lucas, who was involved with the city’s child sexual exploitation service, said more than 660 young people, mainly girls, were referred to her team between 2001 and 2013.

But she said police frequently failed to act when passed specific information about abusers.

As part of attempts to rebuild trust in the council, new leader Paul Lakin has created a £120,000 fund to pay for counselling for child sex victims, with the money coming through cutting two cabinet posts and banning foreign travel for councillors.

He has also set up a cross-party ‘improvement board’ that will report back to leading councillors each month on whether things are changing for the better.

Coun Lakin said: “The Jay report acknowledges we have already made improvements in our services although, tragically, this has come far too late for many victims.

“But we are not complacent and we will continue to make sure we do all we can to make sure more young people – both in Rotherham and across the country – are better protected.”

But with the full story of the 16-year scandal only now starting to emerge, the issue of how hundreds of children in Rotherham were abused for years and let down by the authorities supposed to protect them is likely to dominate headlines for months and possibly years to come.

WHAT THE JAY REPORT DISCOVERED

The damning Jay report said police had treated victims with ‘contempt’, while councillors and senior officers had been told of problems a decade ago but took no action.

The report found the majority of perpetrators of abuse had been of Pakistani origin, with most of the child victims white.

But there were concerns about identifying the ethnic origins of abusers because of fears staff could be perceived as ‘racist’.

So warnings from frontline workers about the extent of the problem went repeatedly unheeded by council bosses and South Yorkshire Police.

Meanwhile, girls as young as 11 were gang-raped by large numbers of men, children were doused in petrol and told they were going to be set alight, and youngsters were threatened with guns in a litany of horrendous abuse being inflicted in the town over a period of years.

Professor Jay’s report also revealed a 2002 report by a Home Office researcher employed by Rotherham Council had exposed the scale of the problem – but was ‘suppressed’ by police and the local authority, with the author hounded out of her job.

The inquiry also revealed councillors and senior officers were given seminars that explained the town’s child sex exploitation problem ‘in the most explicit terms’ in 2004/05.

Prof Jay said: “After these events, nobody could say, ‘We didn’t know’.”

Interviews with some senior councillors revealed ‘none could recall the issue ever being discussed in the Labour group until 2012’.

The report said there had been ‘blatant’ failings from Rotherham Council managers and South Yorkshire Police.

Prof Jay said frontline staff had tried to raise concerns about grooming problems, with senior managers knowing about the issue for years.

The report said abuse ‘continues to this day’, with around 50 cases still being dealt with.

Widespread sexual abuse in Rotherham has caused outrage – but little action

Published October 6, 2014 by misty534

Rotheram, England

‘If political outrage were currency, Rotherham would be overflowing with cash, action and initiatives to help the survivors.’

If political outrage were currency, Rotherham would be overflowing with cash, action and initiatives to help the survivors. But as I found when I went to make a BBC film about the role of “political correctness” in the child sex-abuse scandal there, it’s not.

As I write, the police have yet to arrest any of the alleged abusers of the women I met. All have reported them. There is no organised support for any of the survivors or their families. The Rotherham Women’s Counselling Service, which offers specialised support to sexual abuse survivors, has a six-month waiting list.

There is no organised campaign for compensation. It is pure chance whether these young women have a decent lawyer to fight their case or not. Many don’t. Some are being threatened anew by their former abusers for speaking out. They compare stories on the phone about who received protection measures from the police after seeking help – and who has been denied them.

Many are still struggling with the council. Holly Archer is 17 now. She was abused from the age of 13 by five men, after the council placed her in foster care – the abusers were all white, incidentally – and the council never tried to stop it. She is trying to get her baby back from the council, which wants to have him adopted. Her mother, Joanne Turner, only found out that Holly’s foster carer had given her the morning-after pill during our interview. Joanne is full of the strength, protective anger and regret of a mother betrayed; she had only sought council help to stop her daughter going off the rails. She struggled to challenge the council when she realised that no one was stopping these men taking her daughter off for sex. “It’s not a topic they choose to discuss,” she told me. “‘That’s Holly’s decision to make’. They’ve said that since she were 11 or 12 … They condoned it.”

Meeting women like Holly and Joanne, it feels as if they’ve come through a war. In some cases, they’re still in it. Survivors, only in their late teens or 20s now, were numbed by alcohol and drugs through it all. I felt guilty asking them to re-tell their experiences again.

A macho and bullying deal-making culture seemed evident in claims made to me and my producer, Sam Wichelow, that accused councillors and officials of mediating handovers of abducted girls from British Pakistani abusers. A lot of official energy seems to be focused on protecting the citadel of the council and South Yorkshire police. Jessica (not her real name) said police officers called her “whore”, “bitch” and “mistress”. She was 13.

And the dirtiest secret behind it all? Widespread, normalised domestic violence. It was how these young girls were controlled by their rapists – white and Asian. One British Pakistani woman told the Inside Out team it was her community’s “deep dark secret”. This is the community where many of these abusers grew up, and in some cases kept traditional wives while abusing white girls outside.

White adult survivors of sexual abuse in their own homes in the 60s and 70s are coming forward too. I met one who had reported it to police and teachers as a child, and was treated as a troublemaker, not a victim, just like the young women now.

Outrage is cheap. If national politicians really want to make an honest reckoning, they need to make connections: between the things that they say outrage them – like domestic violence and sexual abuse and the treatment of “hard-working” working-class families by officials – and the impact of cuts to legal aid and domestic violence refuges and independent support services.

I was humbled by the bravery of the women of Rotherham I met who are speaking out. But frankly, they’ve been speaking out for years and the people who run things have just not listened. What evidence do we have that anyone’s really listening now?

• Samira Ahmed’s special report on Rotherham is on BBC1 HD tonight (6 October) at 7.30pm.

• Donations can be made to the Rotherham Women’s Counselling service at www.rwcs.org.uk.

The Guardian