More than 1,400 children were sexually abused by Pakistan Moslim gangs during a period of over 16 years after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded. Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorised as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help. In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.
Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.
Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action. There were calls for Shaun Wright, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire (pictured above, left), to step down after it emerged that he was the councillor with responsibility for children’s services in Rotherham for part of the period covered by the report.
Details of the appalling depravity in the town and the systemic failures that allowed it to continue were laid out in a report published by Professor Alexis Jay, the former chief inspector of social work in Scotland. Victims were gang raped, while others were groomed and trafficked across northern England by groups of mainly Asian men.
When children attempted to expose the abuse, they were threatened with guns, warned that their loved ones would be raped and, in one case, doused in petrol and told they would be burnt alive. Prof Jay wrote: “No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.
“It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.” She added: “There were 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.”
The report pinned the blame squarely on failings within the leadership of South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham council.