Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: More victims stepping forward

 

Deputy Political Editor

New victims of sexual exploitation in Rotherham have come forward as the scandal over the systematic abuse of children continues to engulf the town’s council and South Yorkshire Police.

Inspectors are about to be sent into the authority by the Government to investigate why it did not raise the alarm over the scale of activities by paedophile gangs.

The county’s chief constable, David Crompton, disclosed his force had been contacted by 12 new potential victims since the publication of a devastating report detailing the abuse of at least 1,400 young people over 16 years.

In a statement to MPs, the Home Secretary Theresa May accused police and councillors of a “complete dereliction of duty” in their failure to respond to complaints about the activities of abusers.

Last week’s report by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that councillors, council officers and police officers were aware of the widespread abuse of girls, but failed to tackle it. The children, many of whom were in local authority care, were groomed, raped and trafficked by groups of men in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Mr Crompton told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that 62 officers in his force were working on allegations of child sex abuse, compared to just three in 2010. They are conducting nine “multiple victim, multiple offender” investigations, including two in Rotherham, he said. Police have secured 104 convictions since the start of 2013 and another 40 suspects were on bail.

The chief constable, who took up his post in 2012, insisted there was no complacency within the force over the scale of the task and said last week’s report had been a “huge wake-up call”.

Insisting he would not step down, he said: “We have got a very comprehensive plan moving forward, and even though we have put additional resources into this, we may be putting in more resources, given that we have got even more allegations coming forward.”

But he was unable to give direct answers about failures highlighted in the Jay report, including why an 11-year-old victim was arrested and why the rape of a 12-year-old girl by several men was described as “entirely consensual” by an officer.

The force has commissioned an independent investigation into the response of the police and council to the child sex allegations.

Mrs May signalled that ministers were preparing to order an independent inspection of Rotherham Council as she promised to bring perpetrators to justice and prevent a repeat of the scandal.

She said there were fears of “inadequate scrutiny by councillors, institutionalised political correctness and covering-up of information and the failure to take action against gross misconduct” in the authority. The council welcomed the move and promised to co-operate with any inquiry.

Labour, which ran the authority throughout the period of abuse, has suspended four members who held positions of authority at the council at the time. They are the authority's former leader Roger Stone and ex-deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar, as well as councillors Gwendoline Ann Russell, who chairs the town's looked-after children scrutiny panel, and Shaukat Ali, a former mayor.

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