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Child abuse report finds 1,400 children sexually exploited over 16 year period in Rotherham

By Heather Saul

At least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in one town over a 16-year period, a report published today has found.

A report commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council in 2013 on the events in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, between 1997 and 2013 concluded: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered."

Roger Stone, the leader of Rotherham council from 2003, stepped down with "immediate effect" after accepting responsibility on behalf of the council for failings detailed in the report.

Its author, Professor Alexis Jay, said she found examples of "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".

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

She said she found that girls as young as 11 had been raped by large numbers of men.

The report said failures of the political and officer leadership of Rotherham Council over the first 12 years she looked at were "blatant" as the seriousness of the problem was underplayed by senior managers and was not seen as a priority by South Yorkshire Police.

She said police "regarded many child victims with contempt".

The figure of 1,400 is a “conservative estimate”, according to the report, which concluded: "No one knows the true scale of the child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham over the years.”

Rotherham first came under the spotlight in 2010 when five men, described by a judge as "sexual predators", were given lengthy jail terms after they were found guilty of 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 towns and cities including Rochdale, Derby and Oxford.

In response, Rotherham Council said it accepted its findings, including the statement that failures "almost without exception" were attributed to senior managers in child protection services, elected councillors and senior police officers.

It accepted that failures were not down to "frontline social or youth workers who are acknowledged in the report as repeatedly raising serious concerns about the nature and extent of this kind of child abuse".

Martin Kimber, the chief executive of Rotherham Council said at a press conference after the publication of the report today: “We the Council and other agencies failed in our duty for a significant period of time, and for this I am deeply sorry and I offer my sincere apologies to the young people who have suffered such horrific abuse and also to their families for the devastation this will have caused.

“We could and we should have done more to protect children  and risk. That is why the report will be widely published and referred to national agencies to ensure the learning from it is not just confined to Rotherham.”

He said the report would also be referred to the chief constable of police for consideration.

Source: Independent

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