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Rotherham: one year on from the Jay Report, can the town recover?

Today marks one year since the publication of the Jay Report, which exposed the scale of child rape and grooming in Rotherham.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says it is working to identify more than 100 officers in their investigation into how police treated complaints of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Meanwhile South Yorkshire Police have acknowledged that there is still work to be done in encouraging survivors of abuse to come forward.

But what effect has the scandal had on the town? David Hirst has been assessing the impact on the community.

Brother reveals 'champion' Justin Wilson had chosen to donate his organs

Justin Wilson's brother Stefan, also an IndyCar driver, has described his brother as a "champion" in a series of posts on Twitter. He revealed his brother had chosen to donate his organs to help others in need.


Announcement of racing driver's death

The 37-year-old former Formula One driver from Rotherham, who now competes for Andretti Autosport, was in the closing laps of a race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday when a competitor crashed in front of him, hurling debris through the front of his car.

He suffered a severe head injury and had been in a critical condition in hospital since the smash.

Police appeal to find missing Rotherham woman

Police are appealing for help to find a missing woman from Rotherham.

Katie Carr who is missing fro her home in Rotherham Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Katie Carr, who is 28-years-old, was last seen at 1pm at Holywell Road area of Kilnhurst in the town on Sunday August 23, 2015.

She is believed to have contacted her family this morning (Monday 24 August) but has not been heard from since.

She was last seen wearing a white jacket and dark jeans with boots.

Police believe that Katie may have travelled to the Sheffield area.

Rotherham Indycar driver in coma after US crash

British Indycar driver Justin Wilson from South Yorkshire is in a coma after being hit by a piece of debris during a race in the US.

Justin Wilson Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The 37-year-old former Formula One driver, who currently competes for Andretti Autosport, suffered a head injury when a car crashed in front of him at Pocono Raceway on Sunday. He was airlifted to hospital by helicopter.

Police & Council focus on helping Rotherham victims

The two agencies that have taken the brunt of the criticism that followed the Jay Report say their primary focus over the last year has been persuading victims in Rotherham to trust them again.

South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council say they have gone a long way to dismantle the organisational culture that allowed police officers and council officials to treat young abuse victims as wayward irritants.

Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council's strategic director of children's services, was brought in at the end of last year to rescue a beleaguered department.

He said he was as shocked as anyone by the "industrial scale" of what Professor Jay uncovered, but when he arrived in December he found a team committed to turning things around.

"There was a sense of acceptance when I spoke to people and, when I spoke to staff, they wanted to be part of the solution.

"For me, it's about really listening to what children and young people tell us and a culture of never giving up on a child again.

"We're trying to instil that but it does take time.

"We've put things in place to improve our service, improve our practice. Things are moving in the right direction but its not done yet. Progress is being made, green shoots, but there's still a long way to go."

– Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council's Director of Children's Services

The director said his team is currently supporting 2,300 children, of whom 73 are sexual exploitation cases. He said extra social workers have been drafted in and he hopes a decrease in individual staff workload will give them a better chance to do their work properly.

"Over the last 12 months, if nothing else, restoring confidence has been really, really important and we've still got a journey to go on.

"The key focus has been around the victims and survivors. We need to understand better what the issues are for them and we could have done better and what we need to do for the future."

– Chief Supt Jason Harwin, Rotherham's Police commander

Mr Harwin said he understands that the public want to see arrests and perpetrators jailed.

He said South Yorkshire Police has arrested 460 people for child abuse offences in the last 12 months with 76 of these suspected of involvement in "grooming and facilitation".

And he said 54 people have been charged with child sexual exploitation related offences across the force, 22 in Rotherham.

The senior officer said there are currently 155 live CSE investigations in South Yorkshire, with 46 of these in Rotherham.

He said there are still many barriers to bringing suspects to justice but he said his officers now had other tools, short of prosecution, to control suspected offenders, including abduction notices and sexual harm prevention orders.

"Victim Support identified a real need in victims for one familiar face to support them through the whole experience of deciding whether to report abuse, being interviewed by the police, and their case making its way through the criminal justice system.

"We are providing that consistent support through our Vulnerable Victims project, which is funded by South Yorkshire PCC.

"Victim Support's specially trained staff and volunteers offer free, confidential information and support to anyone affected by crime - regardless of when the crime took place or if the police are involved.

"Call our Supportline team on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit to find out how we can help."

– Lesley McLean, manager Victim Support in Yorkshire


"I don't understand why police turned away from Rotherham's exploited girls" : Police & Crime Commissioner

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner says he still does not fully understand how "police could turn away from young girls who were being exploited" in Rotherham.

Dr Alan Billings became PCC as a direct result of the Jay Report, after his predecessor Shaun Wright was forced to resign in its wake.

Dr Billings recalled how the scale of the offending in Rotherham outlined by Professor Alexis Jay "seemed scarcely believable".

"We had to first of all accept that what Professor Jay had turned up was true, that this was the reality.

"And that took a lot of believing because of the sheer scale of it.

"So I think there was a period of time when the police had to recognise that this was true, that this was the reality and that took a bit of time.

"And then, of course, to have to search their own consciences and search their records and their past to understand what had gone wrong."

– Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner

Dr Billings came into office last year with a stated commitment to putting child sexual exploitation at the top of the force's agenda.

He said he has made sure more officers are dedicated to the problem and has implemented an independent review of what went wrong, which is due to report by the end of the year.<

But he is most keen to flag up the Victims and Survivors Panel he set up which, he says, is now informing South Yorkshire Police's practice and training.

"I still don't fully understand how the police could turn away from young girls who were being exploited but, whatever the answers, they do not excuse people, who should have recognised a crime, from failing to act.

"But I do know that the nature and scale of child sexual exploitation is only just being understood and I feel that with every meeting of the Victims, Survivors and their Families Panel we are getting closer to some of the answers.

"The survivors I meet are very clear. Very few people understood then the insidious nature of grooming. They didn't understand what was happening themselves until it was too late and they had been trapped in destructive patterns of behaviour.

"They were not seen as vulnerable children, young girls, who had fallen in love with men who, they thought, loved them and showed them, at first, the affection and attention they craved.

"The authorities, who should have known better, by and large failed to extricate themselves from that more general cultural context. They failed to educate themselves, and us ."I don't think the public of South Yorkshire will feel happy until they start to see the prosecutions coming through and I think by the end of the year we should begin to see that."

– Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner

1st anniversary of Jay Report findings

This week marks a year since the publication of the Jay Report, which revealed the shocking extent of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Jay Report revealed 1400 women were sexually exploited in Rotherham Credit: ITV Yorkshire

The report revealed that 1,400 young women had been sexually exploited in the town over a 16 year period and according to South Yorkshire police they are working hard to encourage victims to come forward so that the men that exploited them can be prosecuted.

Timeline: Tackling child exploitation in Rotherham

The publication of the Jay Report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham provoked a wave of outrage, resignations and new initiatives.

Here are the key events of the past year since the report was published:

:: 2014

August 26: Professor Alexis Jay publishes her devastating report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. The leader of Rotherham Council, Roger Stone, resigns within minutes of the publication.

August 27: Shaun Wright, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner who was the councillor in charge of children's services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010, refuses to resign despite Home Secretary Theresa May calling for him to step down.

August 28: Education secretary Nicky Morgan said she is "appalled" by the exploitation exposed by the report and announces an early inspection of child protection in Rotherham by Ofsted.

September 2: The Labour Party suspends four of its members in Rotherham, including Mr Stone and ex-deputy council leader Jahangir Akhtar.

September 8: Chief executive of Rotherham Council Martin Kimber, who joined the authority in 2009, announces he is to step down at the end of December.

September 9 : Mr Wright is grilled by MPs on the Home Affairs Committee. Chairman Keith Vaz calls for him to resign and said he would be asking the Home Secretary to bring in emergency legislation to enable PCCs to be sacked.

September 10: Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announces that Rotherham Council will face an independent inspection led by Louise Casey, the head of the Government's Troubled Families programme.

September 12 : Mr Wright attends an angry meeting of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel where he answers questions and is screamed at from the public gallery before the panel passes a no confidence vote.<

September 16 : Mr Wright resigns.

September 19 : Rotherham's director of children's services, Joyce Thacker, resigns.

October 13: The National Crime Agency (NCA) announces it will lead an investigation into outstanding allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, following a request from South Yorkshire Police.

October 31: Dr Alan Billings is elected as the new PCC for South Yorkshire, pledging to make tackling child sexual exploitation a priority.

November 18: The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) says it will investigate 10 South Yorkshire Police staff over the handling of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

November 19: Ofsted declares children's services in Rotherham are "inadequate".

:: 2015

January 29: Rotherham's Labour MP Sarah Champion tells Sky News that the figure of 1,400 victims in the Jay Report may be an underestimate.

February 4: Louise Casey publishes a highly critical report on Rotherham Council, saying it is "not fit for purpose". The entire political leadership of the council announces it will resign and Mr Pickles says he will send in government commissioners.

February 23: Ms Casey tells MPs the police should be subjected to the the same analysis that she had given the council.

March 11: Former council leader Roger Stone says the Casey Report felt "like a witch hunt" a day after he was grilled by MPs.

March 13: New PCC Alan Billings calls for a wide-ranging inspection of South Yorkshire Police after a BBC investigation alleged failings relating to the exploitation of children in Sheffield.

March 26: The IPCC announces it has expanded its investigation into how police handled child sexual exploitation in Rotherham after receiving complaints involving more than 100 allegations against 42 named officers.

June 6: Dr Billings announces that Professor John Drew has been appointed to review South Yorkshire Police.

June 24: The NCA announces it is looking at 300 potential suspects as it begins the investigation stage of its inquiry into historical child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

July 21: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary says South Yorkshire Police still needs to make major improvements to its child protection procedures.

August 3: A £3 million package is announced to provide a Barnardo's team of specialist workers to work with children in South Yorkshire who are at risk of being sexually exploited.

"Small fraction" of Rotherham victims have come forward for help

Only a small fraction of more than 1,400 victims who were sexually exploited as children in Rotherham over a 16-year period have come forward for help, according to a lawyer representing survivors.

A year after the publication of the Jay Report, which produced the shocking estimate that more than 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked, groomed and violently attacked in the South Yorkshire town, David Greenwood said he believes fewer than 100 of the girls involved have engaged with the raft of new inquiries.

Mr Greenwood, who represents 58 girls who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham between 1996 and 2012, says the much-criticised police and council have made progress in the town in the last 12 months.

But he believes many survivors will only trust the system again once a truly independent agency is brought in.

"Both agencies have improved in Rotherham in the last 12 months but survivors of exploitation will be unwilling to come forward to them unless radical changes are made.

"An agency independent from South Yorkshire Police and RMBC (the council) is essential for the 1,400 young women who need help.

"I am aware of only around 50 to 60 girls having come forward. This means there are around 1,350 whose lives could be improved with specialist help."

– David Greenwood, lawyer representing Rotherham child sexual exploitation survivors

Professor Alexis Jay shocked the UK with her report, which was published on August 26 last year.

It was already well-known that girls in Rotherham had been subjected to sexual exploitation by gangs of largely Asian men but the outrage provoked by the Jay Report stemmed from the sheer scale of offending and it outlined the horrific details included of what had beengoing on in the town between 1996 and 2013.

Professor Jay said at the time she had found "utterly appalling" 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".

She 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.

Waves of criticism followed, aimed mainly at Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.

Resignations included the leader and chief executive of the council as well as its director of children's services.

The most high profile casualty was South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, who was the councillor in charge of Rotherham's children's services between 2005 and 2010.

A further review of Rotherham Council by the Government's Troubled Families chief, Louise Casey, heaped more criticism on an authority she labelled as "not fit for purpose" and "in denial".

That lead to the then communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles handing over its powers to a panel of appointed commissioners.

Both the council and the police say their focus over the last 12 months has been on building trust among survivors.<

South Yorkshire Police says it now has a team of more than 60 officers working on child sexual exploitation (CSE) and its joint operation with the council and Crown Prosecution Service - Operation Clover - is beginning to see suspected abusers brought before the courts in numbers.

The National Crime Agency has been brought in to investigate historical crimes and recently announced it was looking at 300 potential suspects.

The new Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Billings, has set up a panel of survivors of CSE which he says is informing decision making and police training.

And a £3 million initiative was announced earlier this month which will see a Barnardo's team of specialist workers work with children in South Yorkshire who are at risk of being sexually exploited.

"Only when large numbers of girls affected feel able to speak to the police and with confidence that they will be believed, protected and supported will we know more.

"I have spoken with many girls who simply want nothing to do with the police at present and until the police put in place really good tailor-made support from specialist and dedicated officers they will not engage." "I would like to see a truly independent agency offering survivors good quality support, protection, talking therapies, help with housing, childcare and education. We still have a long way to go."

– David Greenwood, lawyer representing Rotherham child sexual exploitation survivors
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