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Charity claims its warnings of child sex abuse in Rotherham were ignored

A charity which warned of widespread child sex abuse in Rotherham 12 years ago, says questions must be answered about why its warnings were ignored and an official report never published back then.

Detailed evidence of criminal gangs in the town grooming children for sex was drawn up by a researcher as long ago as 2002, according to Hilary Willmer from Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation.

But it was only in last week's damning report that it emerged those findings were rejected by council officials and police because they thought they were exaggerated or made up.

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Babies 'taken away from Rotherham victims'

Babies born to some victims of sexual exploitation in Rotherham were taken away from them and their mothers would never see them again, the town's MP said.

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Report finds 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham. Credit: ITV News

A report by Professor Alexis Jay found 1,400 children were sexually abused while in care at the council over a 16-year period.

In a number of the cases we read, children and young people had pregnancies, miscarriages and terminations. Some had children removed under care orders and suffered further trauma when contact with their child was terminated and alternative family placements found. This affected not just the victims themselves, but other siblings who had developed attachments to the baby.

– Professor Alexis Jay's report

Labour's Sarah Champion said it "spoke volumes" about how the authorities did not see these children as victims.

"In my eyes, this is one of the most upsetting parts of the report," she said.

Rotherham communities need to work together

Days after the damning report into the abuse of hundreds of young people in Rotherham, focus remains on holding those in public office at the time of the abuse to account and supporting the many victims.

But in Rotherham itself attention is turning to how communities work together to ensure nothing like it happens again. David Hirst reports.

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South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable pledges action after damning report

South Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable says the force will investigate issues raised in a report published into child abuse in Rotherham.

South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton
South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton Credit: Press Association

David Crompton said it was his responsibility to look into the issues raised and said "if people have done things they should not have done...we will take action."

The report found that 1,400 children were abused between 1997-2013, that police gave no priority to child sexual exploitation cases and failed to act on their abuse as a crime.

Mr Crompton said he was determined to make sure the mistakes are not repeated.

Former Council leader says police are 'not fit for purpose'

The former leader of Sheffield City Council has said South Yorkshire Police is "not fit for purpose".

His comments come as pressure to resign mounts on senior councillors and police officers who were involved in decision-making during a period identified as letting down children who were sexually exploited in Rotherham.

Paul Scrivens, who has recently been given a peerage, told ITV Calendar over Skype that the Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright should step down and that the Chief Constable of the force, David Crompton, should also reassess his position if he does not take action against senior officers:

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable requests meeting with abuse report author

South Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable has written to the author of a report into child abuse in Rotherham to request a meeting.

South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton
South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton

Professor Alexa Jay's report found child abuse in the borough on a 'shocking scale' between 1997 and 2013.

In a statement David Crompton said:

The report into CSE in Rotherham laid bare the failings of South Yorkshire Police over a number of years. This made for painful reading, however I am determined that we will use the findings of the report to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

With this in mind I have written to Professor Jay to request a meeting, which will allow us to fully understand her detailed findings and properly address any concerns both past and present.

Of the four officers named in the report, just one, Richard Tweed, remains with the Force. His position in Rotherham started in 2010, the year which the report states the improvements began.

As a result of the release of the report we have begun to see a number of new reports about child sexual exploitation. I interpret this as a sign of confidence amongst victims that the Force, as it stands now, will take these matters seriously and investigate them fully.

– South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton

East Yorkshire MP writes to council over head of children's services

The MP for Beverley and Holderness has written to the Chief Executive of East Riding Council asking him to consider the position of the council's current Head of Children and Young People Support and Safeguarding Services.

Graham Stuart has written to East Riding Council over their head of children's services
Graham Stuart has written to East Riding Council over their head of children's services

Pam Allen was previously Director of Safeguarding at Rotherham Council from 2004 until 2009. A report into child abuse in Rotherham published this week found a "shocking scale of child abuse."

Graham Stuart MP wrote to Cllr Nigel Pearson about Ms Allen's position and questioned her suitability for her current role at East Riding Council:

In light of the multiple devastating failures of child safeguarding documented in Professor Jay’s report, I would be grateful if you could let me know – in a form that can be published – what steps you are taking to investigate Ms Allen’s performance as the responsible council officer in Rotherham. In particular, please keep me informed as to whether you plan to review Ms Allen’s suitability for her current position. If it is the case that she bears a serious level of responsibility for the situation that was allowed to develop in Rotherham, it is highly doubtful whether Ms Allen should be entrusted with a similar safeguarding role in the East Riding, or indeed in any local authority.

– Graham Stuart MP

East Riding of Yorkshire Council say they do not comment on individual members of staff but in a statement said:

I would like to reassure residents that the council together with its partners gives the highest priority to the protection and safeguarding of children and young people throughout the East Riding and is committed to delivering the best possible outcomes. The East Riding Safeguarding Children's Board, of which the council is a key member, will carefully consider the independent report which has been published following an inquiry by Professor Alexis Jay OBE into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

– Kevin Hall, director of children, families and schools at East Riding of Yorkshire Council
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