Sammy Woodhouse has been campaigning for justice nearly a decade after she spoke out about the horrific crimes of the Rotherham grooming gang.

Just three weeks ago, it was reported there had been a delay to the long-awaited seven-year report into the alleged police misconduct, a stark reminder of how 1,400 victims were exploited.

The 36-year-old, was one of the first victims to come forward to raise the alarm about the town’s exploitation under a pseudonym to journalist, Andrew Norfolk.

Yet, after all these years it is hard for Sammy to believe the crimes she committed whilst she was groomed are still held against her.

Whilst she was abused, Sammy was caught up in criminal activity including burglary, 20 counts of criminal damage and possession of a firearm.

Now, the activist has urged the government to take a stand by introducing Sammy’s Law, a piece of legislation which would give victims of child sexual exploitation the right to have any crimes related to their grooming automatically reviewed and cleared from their criminal records.

Sammy told the Rotherham Current: “It’s so important because these are children and they’re being treated as criminals. I was criminally exploited, they think it’s only girls and it’s not. What happened throughout Rotherham is we spoke about girls and sexual exploitation but we didn’t speak about criminal exploitation. If you look through all the trials no perpetrator was held to account.

 “When I spoke with the police they said because we have so many offences with sexual exploitation, we’ve no need to look into it. But what they were doing was having meetings with the victims about the crimes that they committed.”

Everyday she is reminded of her conviction for actual bodily harm (ABH), which could stay on her record for over 100 years, unless she applies to court and pays thousands of pounds to get it removed.

Sammy continued: “So, they cared about what I had done as a victim but they didn’t give a toss about the perpetrator. But, I still have mine on my criminal record which has been proven in a court of law that it wasn’t my fault and that I was exploited. So, why is it that I am punished for the rest of my life?” 

Despite these charges having expired, Sammy still has a conviction of ABH on her criminal record from when she was 15-years-old and hoped the law would end this ‘victim blaming’.

The current law stipulates victims of child exploitation still have to disclose their criminal convictions, which affects them while applying for certain jobs. 

Sammy said: “You can’t put a blanket over everyone. Not everyone should have their records cleared as not everyone gets out of exploitation, instead they turn into a perpetrator or criminal. So, it’s important to focus on the individual. If not, they should be able to move forward in life.”

Sammy was just 14 when she met Arshid Hussain, the leader of the grooming gang who was found guilty and jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences against nine women, including Sammy. 

She explained: “Myself and the MP Alexander Stafford have asked for a criminal exploitation commissioner. The government have turned around and gone and done what I knew they would do and said we have a victims commission and a children’s commissioner. Well, actually we’ve had those for years and it’s made no difference whatsoever.

“There’s so much that needs to be done and we’ve done the work for them. We’ve made over 100 suggestions of what they should be doing and 30 of those they are currently looking into. But we’ve done work for them. We have an out of date system.”