True scale of Rotherham child sex abuse was 'downplayed'

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

By ITV News correspondent Damon Green

A report into 16 years of child sexual abuse in Rotherham has concluded that we will never know the true scale of exploitation in the town.

But it has found that a series of detailed and accurate reports into the problem were suppressed and ignored as early as 2002 - with senior council officers and police taking no action, and one of the report's authors even being punished for her work.

Today's report by Professor Alexis Jay found that in 16 years at least 1,400 young people were sexually exploited in Rotherham - with around one third already known to social services.

Social workers an care homes were, she says, "overwhelmed" by the numbers of abuse victims. But despite raising their concerns with senior managers they were ignored.

South Yorkshire police were unwilling to recognise grooming as a criminal offence.

Meanwhile, senior council officers downplayed the scale of abuse, concerned that the perpetrator had been identified as being of Pakistani heritage, and unwilling to be seen as racist.

Professor Jay said: