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Monday 22nd September 2014
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'Horrific' Cases Of Child Abuse In Rotherham

Tuesday, 26th August 2014 13:55

More than 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, a report has concluded.

The abuse of youngsters, some just 11 years old, has been described as "horrific" and "not confined to the past but continues to this day".

One victim told Sky News she was sexually exploited by "hundreds" of men and authorities did nothing to stop them.

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council, has stepped down over the damning report.

"I believe it is only right that I, as leader, take responsibility on behalf of the council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report and it is my intention to do so," he said.

In the summary of her findings, Professor Alexis Jay said: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that the victims suffered.

"They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.

"There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made witness to brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone.

"Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators."

A Number 10 spokesman described the failings of local agencies as "appalling" and said the attackers need to be brought to justice.

South Yorkshire Police issued an "unreserved apology" to victims and said "we fully acknowledge our previous failings".

The report highlights a variety of serious child protection failings and concludes the council and other agencies should have done more to protect those at risk.

However, Rotherham Council Chief Executive Martin Kimber said no council officers will face disciplinary action.

"Officers in senior positions responsible for children's safeguarding services throughout the critical periods when services fell some way short of today's standards do not work for the council today," he said.

"To that extent, I have not been able to identify any issues of professional practice related to current serving officers of this council that would require me to consider use of disciplinary or capability procedures."

In just over a third of cases, victims were previously known to services in the South Yorkshire town.

The report says there was a series of failings including poor leadership from senior managers in child protection services and a perceived "lack of interest" in, and understanding of, grooming as a model of child abuse.

Victims were not heard or believed and there was a perception that a "macho and bullying" culture within the council prevented child sexual exploitation from being properly discussed.

There was "denial" that such events could happen in Rotherham and issues of ethnicity were "played down" by senior managers.

"Almost all" the abusers were described by victims as being of Pakistani origin, but authorities "wanted to play down ethnic dimensions... for fear of being thought racist."

The spotlight first fell on Rotherham in 2010 when five men, described as "sexual predators", were given lengthy jail terms for grooming teenage girls for sex.

The prosecution was the first of a series of high-profile cases in the last four years that have revealed the exploitation of young girls in areas including Rochdale, Derby and Oxford.