Half of Rotherham’s child abuse victims ‘could have been saved from harm’

Rotherham town centre
Rotherham town centre

Half of Rotherham’s child abuse victims may never have been harmed if police had acted on information they were given about suspected perpetrators, it has been claimed.

Jayne Senior, a project manager with the Risky Business initiative, told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee that detailed intelligence about suspected abusers was passed to people ‘at the highest level’ in South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council from 2003 onwards.

Ms Senior, who was involved with Risky Business from 1999 to 2011, claimed up to 700 children may never have become victims if intelligence about suspected perpetrators had been properly used.

She said: “I would like to ask the question why the information and the intelligence that was shared monthly and sometimes weekly was never enough to be used to go out there and hunt these people down, so maybe half of these children would have not been harmed? I have information here on perpetrators in 2006 who were still active in 2011 and 2012.”

Her evidence follows the Jay Report revealing at least 1,400 children in the town had been the victims of sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013. She told MPs she was told ‘quite categorically’ not to mention the race or ethnicity of abusers in any training she delivered. She added she used to get a ‘lot of comments’ from police officers that girls who were having sex with abusers had ‘made a choice, it was a lifestyle, the way that they lived’.

She said: “We also used to get told on numerous occasions, ‘Where is your evidence? Where is your evidence?’. We were project workers, we were youth workers, we were not police officers, and we believed that we gave enough information for them to get the evidence.”

South Yorkshire Police is working with the National Crime Agency to draw up terms of reference for an independent inquiry into child abuse in Rotherham, which will include investigations into historic cases.