AT LEAST 1400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham
between 1997 and 2013, a new independent report states.
Published on Tuesday, the report, Independent Inquiry into
Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997-2013), sets out
"blatant failures" by the police and Rotherham Council.
Girls as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators,
trafficked to other towns and cities, abducted, beaten, and
intimidated. There were cases where children were doused in petrol
and threatened with being set alight, made to witness violent
rapes, and threatened that they would be next if they told
Families were terrorised by perpetrators, and, in some cases,
child victims went back to perpetrators "in the belief that this
was the only way their parents and other children in the family
would be safe". Children in care were targeted: a significant
number had a history of child neglect and sexual abuse. Many
victims repeatedly self-harmed, and some became suicidal.
In two cases, fathers who tracked down their daughters and tried
to remove them from houses where they were being abused were
themselves arrested. In other cases, the victims were arrested for
breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, while no action
was taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.
The report speaks of "blatant" failures by the police and
council. Despite evidence from front-line staff, senior managers in
social services "underplayed" child sexual exploitation, while the
police gave it "no priority . . . regarding many child victims with
contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime".
Three reports on the problem were ignored, and the first was
suppressed because some senior officers did not believe the data it
The author of the latest report, Professor Alexis Jay, states
that, until 2009, the prevailing culture at the most senior level
of the council was "bullying and 'macho'" and "not an appropriate
climate in which to discuss the rape and sexual exploitation of
She states that "by far the majority of perpetrators were
described as 'Asian' by victims." Yet there was no direct
engagement between the council and the Pakistani-heritage
community. "Several staff described their nervousness about
identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being
thought racist," she writes.
The deputy council leader from 2011 to 2014, Jahangir Akhtar,
described the child sexual-exploitation convictions of five
Pakistani-heritage men in 2010 in Rotherham as a "one-off". This
was "at best naïve, and at worst ignoring a politically
inconvenient truth", Professor Jay writes.
On Tuesday, Roger Stone, the leader of the council since 2003,
stepped down. No other employee of the council or police has
followed his lead. The chief executive of the council, Martin
Kimber, apologised to the victims, and accepted the recommendations
of the report, but said that services were now "not perfect, but
they are fit for purpose". No one is to be disciplined.
A statement from South Yorkshire Police said that "lessons have
been learned." South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner,
Shaun Wright, the councillor in charge of children's services from
2005 to 2010, has vowed to stay, despite many calls for him to
On Tuesday, the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, said that
he had been "deeply moved and appalled" by the report. He called on
Rotherham Council to make "full provision for the ongoing care of
those who have been affected in this tragic series of events".
Professor Jay has warned that there is currently "not enough
long-term support for the child victims".
The founder of Rotherham Muslim Youth Group, Muhbeen Hussain,
said: "We want prosecutions to be made, and we want communities to
unite on this issue to make sure it is categorically stamped out.
Race, religion, or political correctness should never provide a
cloak of invisibility to such grotesque crimes."
Safeguarding adviser appointed. For the first
time, the Church of England is appointing its own full-time
national safeguarding adviser. The Church currently shares a
national safeguarding adviser with the Methodist Church. Changes
were needed "in the light of new demands", a statement said on
Question of the week: Should religion and ethnicity be
considered as factors by the police and social services?