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  1. ITV Report

Calls for recognition of worker who helped expose Rochdale abuse scandal

Sara worked for the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team and helped expose the abuse. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Thousands of people are calling for a former sexual health worker to be recognised for her role in exposing the Rochdale grooming scandal.

Over 100,000 have signed a petition calling for Sara Rowbotham to be formally acknowledged for her services to the Rochdale community.

Sara worked for the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team for the NHS from 2004 to 2014.

Her efforts to expose the abuse have been portrayed by Maxine Peake in hard-hitting BBC drama Three Girls.

Many viewers were outraged when it was revealed at the end programme that Sara had been made redundant two years after nine men were jailed in 2012.

A petition, launched on change.org, states that Sara and her team should be formerly recognised for their services to young people.

“Sara and her team should be applaud by not only GMP & the CPS but the government and crown for her services for young people along with the recognition of their work Sara and her team should be the highest advocates for future national guidance surrounding the grooming of children.

“The children of Rochdale were failed time and time again along with Sara and her team.”

– Statement on the online petition

As a sexual health worker at the time, Sara was tasked with identifying young people who were vulnerable to child sex exploitation and alerted the authorities to children who were being abused.

She became disillusioned at the string of under-age girls who spoke to her who were being abused by grown men but were being dismissed as child prostitutes.

Her frustration led to the health worker gathering damning evidence in the Rochdale abuse case in 2012 which helped convict the men involved.

When giving evidence in the 2012 Rochdale inquiry, Sara said bosses ignored scores of warnings that girls were being groomed and sexually exploited as early as 2004 – four years earlier than previously thought.

The sexual health worker, who led the NHS crisis team, said she made 181 referrals for young people between 2005 and 2011.