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Abuse of 1,400 Rotherham kids routinely ignored

By Staff Reporter

The horrifying cost of the official failure to confront widespread child sexual exploitation was revealed yesterday in a damning report detailing how abusers exploited 1,400 children from a single town in England over 16 years.

Gangs of Asian men groomed, abused and trafficked vulnerable children while police were contemptuous of the victims and the council ignored what was going on, in spite of years of warnings and reports about what was happening.

Despite what the inquiry head called a "blatant" failure of leadership at the Labour-run council, nobody will be sacked or face inquiries into their inaction. The leader of the council, Roger Stone, quit yesterday because of what he called "historic failings".

The report commissioned by the council, covering 1997 to 2013, detailed cases where children as young as 11 had been raped by a number of different men, abducted, beaten and trafficked to towns in the north of England to continue the abuse.

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, said she found "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone."

Three reports from 2002 to 2006 highlighted the extent of child exploitation and links to wider criminality, but nothing was done, with the findings either suppressed or simply ignored. Police also failed to act on the crimes and treated the victims with contempt, the inquiry team was told.

In most cases, the victims were white children under the age of 16 and the perpetrators named in the files as "Asian males". The report said council staff were scared of being accused of racism by flagging up the issue.

Council chief executive Martin Kimber said that all the key officers concerned with child protection during the time of the review had left the council.

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) apologised for the failings of Rotherham Council during the time he served as a senior member.

Shaun Wright was a Labour councillor for Rotherham until he was elected to the PCC role in 2012, but he was also responsible for children's services in the town from 2005 to 2010.

His spokesman said that "he fully accepts that there was more that everyone at Rotherham Council should have done to tackle this terrible crime".

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