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  1. ITV Report

Child sexual exploitation 'is continuing' in Rochdale

Child sexual exploitation is continuing in Rochdale, where there was a major scandal over Asian men grooming young white girls for sex, a health worker who has helped victims of grooming said today.

Sara Rowbotham, the co-ordinator of Rochdale's Crisis Intervention Team, a sexual health advice and support service for young people, told MPs: "In Rochdale, there is still sexual exploitation."

She added: "We are attending strategy meetings where these concerns have been raised."

Children involved are about 14 or 15 years old, she said.

Ms Rowbotham was being questioned by the Home Affairs select committee which is inquiring into localised child grooming.

A report into the scandal revealed in late September that social workers, police and prosecutors missed opportunities to stop a child exploitation ring abusing young girls in the Greater Manchester town.

Deficiencies in the way children's social care responded to the victims' needs were caused by "patchy" training of frontline staff, the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) said in its 29-page report into child sexual exploitation.

The review came four months after nine Asian men were convicted of the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of white girls in Heywood and Rochdale.

The trial resulted in a national debate over the role of gangs of largely Asian men in grooming white girls.

Ms Rowbotham, whose team has provided support for victims of grooming in the town, was asked whether the scandal had been caused by incompetence or indifference.

She said: "It was about attitudes to teenagers, it was about disrespect, they were overlooked, they were discriminated against, they were treated appallingly by the protective services."