A report commissioned in the wake of the Rotherham Abuse Scandal is set to be launched on 30 March 2022 into alleged police misconduct, after ‘at least’ 1,400 children were sexually exploited.
The delay has left survivors ‘disappointed’ after a seven-year wait and they are now asking for compensation.
How did it reach this point and why did it shock the nation?
The Rotherham Abuse scandal saw child sexual exploitation in Rotherham from as early as the 1980s before being exposed in 2012.
Journalist Andrew Norfolk wrote a series of articles, which exposed the extent of the exploitation. One of the victims to come forward to Norfolk was Sammy Woodhouse.
This led to the conviction of 12 men of predominantly British-Pakistani heritage, after they ran a vast sex abuse ring which exploited children as young as 11.
This triggered the Alexis Jay report in 2014, which revealed 1,400 children had been abused and ultimately failed in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. This shocked the nation.
The report found police and authorities did not speak out against the abuse out of fear of being branded racist.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) launched Operation Clover and Operation Stovewood into the child abuse cases in South Yorkshire. This was the largest investigation into child exploitation in the UK’s history.
This led to the resignation of Rotherham’s entire Council Executive, Director of Child Services and the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire Police.
A probe into alleged police misconduct was launched in 2014. This investigation is the second biggest inquiry in the South Yorkshire Police’s history following the Hillsborough disaster.
The NCA said last year the investigation had a yearly budget of £12m and more than 200 people currently working on it.
The NCA has identified a total of 313 alleged victims in the town and identified 190 suspects.
Who was convicted?
Among the worst offenders were brothers, Ashrid, Basharart and Bannaras Hussain, who were jailed for 35 years, 25 years and 19 years respectively in February 2016.
The siblings were jailed alongside their uncle Qurban Ali who was handed 10 years as well as, Karen McGregor who was jailed for 13 years and Shelly Davies who was given an 18 month suspended sentence.
In November 2016, Sageer Hussain, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Waleed Ali, Masoued Malik, Asif Ali, Naeem Rafiq and Mohammed Whied were also jailed for between five years and 19 years. Basharat Hussain was given another seven years added to his 25-year sentence.
In August 2019, Masaued Malik, 35, Aftab Hussain, 40, Abid Saddiq, 38, Sharaz Hussain, 35, plus two men aged 33 and 35 who were not named for legal reasons, were found guilty after an eight-week trial.
Early to mid 1990s
It came to light that children under the care of the Rotherham local authority were targeted after community workers came across examples of child sexual exploitation.
‘Risky Business’ project is launched. This was collectively made up of a team of youth workers who followed their growing concerns about young people being exploited through prostitution.
The project started to identify vulnerable young people and referred any children who were cause for concern to children’s social care.
The first draft guidance from the Home Office is put together which covered ‘children involved in prostitution’.
In January, policy and procedures for ‘the protection of children who are being sexually abused through prostitution’ was given by South Yorkshire Police.
In February and March, the Home Office draft guidance is received by the Social Services (Children and Families) Committee. The Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC) sub-committee is given this draft guidance and the police guidance was given to officers regarding ‘child sexual exploitation’ (CSE).
A small group of professionals from ‘key agencies’ came together to meet children who are at risk or involved in CSE.
Yet, their work does not get supported and senior-level officials in child care and police believed the cases of exploitation were made up.
Rotherham Council started to fund “Risky Business”, and the project was maintained and then increased in 2006.
In June, meetings took place between the Police, the Chief Executive of Rotherham Borough Council and senior staff of Education and Social Services to discuss the Home Office research report. The report contained criticisms of how agencies worked to tackle CSE. Police and senior-level officers at the council were not pleased with the report.
In December, a report on ‘runaway children’ was considered by the ACPC’s, as well as the protection of children who had experienced or were at risk of being sexually abused.
In August, a report by Strategic Drugs Analyst, Dr Heal, was produced into ‘Sexual Exploitation, Drug Use and Drug Dealing: the current situation in South Yorkshire’. The report was given to all agencies in the Rotherham Drugs Partnership. Within the report, there were findings which stated a “significant number of girls and some boys were being sexually exploited” in Rotherham.
Later, in September the ACPC approved the revised procedures and protocols that were related to CSE.
Towards the end of the year the Sexual Exploitation Forum had begun, this allowed for cases of children being groomed or at risk to be discussed within monthly meetings.
In November and early 2005, a presentation was made to the Council’s Children’s Executive Group, the Children and Young People’s Board and the Safeguarding Board, which highlighted sexual exploitation of children.
This subsequently led to a Task and Finish Group being set up on CSE. It was chaired by the leader of the council and an action plan was called on.
Awareness was raised surrounding the risks of sexual exploitation among parents, young people and the town’s community in a seminar held by The Task and Finish Group.
Issues were also raised around child safety, witness protection, safe travel and problems surrounding licensing and taxis.
In April, another seminar was held for all council members to discuss the subject of CSE, where 30 elected members attended.
For the next three years, CSE became the key principle within the Community Safety Strategy.
A new department was created for Children and Young People’s Services. Councillor Shaun Wright is appointed cabinet member.
In May, the Police carried out an audit of 87 CSE cases on behalf of the Sexual Exploitation Forum.
Later, in June, the Forum dealt with over 90 CSE cases, and the decision was taken to reduce the number of cases being discussed.
In November, The Chair of the Children and Young People’s Voluntary Sector wrote to the Chief Executive to ask about the progress the Task and Finish Group had made. The group offered to contribute its work.
A conference was held in Rotherham on the sexual exploitation of children in March.
A second report was produced by Dr Heal, Strategic Drugs Analyst, on ‘Violence and Gun Crime: Exploitation, Prostitution and Drug Markets in South Yorkshire’. This report was given to all agencies within the Rotherham Drugs Partnership.
Here, the funding for ‘Risky Business’ increased and the Safeguarding Board approved the revised procedures. An ‘Action Plan for responding to the sexual exploitation of children and young people in Rotherham’ was made.
Later in August 2006, the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel urged for an update on the report on safeguarding surrounding sexual exploitation.
A three-month secondment from National Children Homes began.
An investigation was launched by a Strategic Management Team of grooming and sexual abuse of young boys. More than 70 alleged victims were identified and a man was convicted of offences against 10 children.
In December the forum heard ‘Risky Business’ was ‘inundated’ with referrals, all of them were under 18-years-old. The project was under pressure from those who had referred the children.
Operation Central is launched to investigate men believed to be involved in sexual exploitation.
Five men were convicted and funding for ‘Risky Business’ was increased.
Within June, ‘Risky Business’ continued to be the ‘main service provider’. Work had also started, which involved taxi drivers and licensed premises on the preventive agenda.
In Autumn, Ofsted rated Rotherham children’s services as ‘inadequate’, due to the safety of children not being assured. In September, a report was received by The Local Safeguarding Children Board on the issue surrounding the growing demands on the service due to sexual exploitation.
In December, the Minister of State served an improvement notice to the council in relation to its safeguarding services.
January saw Operation Czar launched, a joint investigation between the Police and Children and Young People’s Services, which involved multiple perpetrators and victims. Here, abduction notices were made and taxi licences revoked, but there was not a single conviction.
On 12 April 2010, a local Safeguarding Board set up a formal CSE sub-group.
Later in May, Councillor Paul Lakin became the Lead Member for Children and Young People’s Services.
November saw the end of the Operation Central trial with five convicted for sexual offences against teenage girls.
Child S was murdered and the Safeguarding Board commissioned a Serious Case Review.
It was emphasised by the Director of Community Services in December that the board of ‘Risky Business’ should be further enhanced.
In January, another joint investigation began called Operation Chard, which involved multiple perpetrators and victims. Here, arrests and abduction notices were made and more taxi licenses revoked. The town’s Children’s Services were removed from government intervention.
Later that year in December, a man was convicted and sentenced to 17.5 years for the murder of Child S.
The Serious Case Review on Child S was published. The Times launched an investigation which unearthed the confidential 2010 police report, which warned there were thousands of CSE crimes being committed within South Yorkshire every year by Asian men.
Later that Summer between July and August, a joint CSE investigation, Operation ‘K-Alphabet’, was launched which focused on a perpetrator who lived in Rotherham.
Within August, Ofstead gave a rating which stated that Rotherham’s child protection was ‘adequate’ and commenced the service had made ‘significant improvements’.
Later in September, The Times published the report into the alleged cover-up between 1997 and 2010.
The publication also reported that police and child protection services within the town had sufficient knowledge of CSE crimes for decades. However, South Yorkshire Police stated they did not withhold the information and were not reluctant to tackle sexual abuse.
Within January the Chief Executive and the Executive Director of Children and Young People’s Services gave evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Council Chief Executive, Martin Kimber apologised to victims and their families, where he blamed it on ‘systemic failures’.
Later in September, the Rotherham Council announced it will launch an independent inquiry headed by Professor Alexis Jay.
On 26 August, the Alexis Jay Report was published regarding CSE between 1997 and 2013. Rotherham Borough Council Leader, Roger Stone, stepped down with immediate effect. Mr Wright is called to stand down but said he will stay as Police Commissioner.
On 28 August, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced Ofsted will set up an inspection of child protection services within Rotherham
In September, Wright stood down, after being called on by councillors, MPs and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Joyce Thacker announced her resignation and was paid £40,000 to leave after the announcement of the Jay Report.
An investigation would be led by the National Crime Agency in October into the outstanding allegations of CSE in Rotherham.
The NCA also said it would take on Operation Stovewood at the request of South Yorkshire Police.
In November, it was announced by the Independent Police Commission (IPCC) it would investigate 10 South Yorkshire Police Officers in relation to the handling of CSE in the town.
This is followed by an Ofsted report which stated the Children’s Services within Rotherham were ‘inadequate’ and warned of ‘widespread or serious failures’ at Rotherham Council which left young people at risk. It also stated that the management had not wholly understood the failures or made any improvements.
The council accepted the finding in the report.
A probe was also launched in 2014 into police alleged misconduct between 1997 and 2013.
In February, a report by Louise Casey announced Rotherham Council was ‘not fit for purpose’. This resulted in the control of the council being handed to the team of five commissions by Eric Pickles.
The NCA report found ‘a number of potentially criminal matters’. This related to one former and another existing councillor arising from the probe.
lan Billing, the newly appointed Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire announced an advisory panel was set up to include survivors and family members to ensure police and social services were doing what they set out to do.
The former Deputy for Chief Inspector and National Director of Social Care, John Goldup, told MPs the government inspectors lacked the focus in order to target the abuse within Rotherham, as they had a ‘limited’ understanding.
In March, former Leader of the Council, Roger Stone appeared before the Communities and Local Government Committee. He urged that MPs reject the allegation that he was a ‘bully’ and used ‘macho culture’ in his authority.
He condemned Louise Casey’s report and he said it felt ‘like a witch hunt’.
Later, a report is published by the Communities and Local Government Committee about how government inspectors failed to detect the CSE within the town as they trusted the council staff.
The IPCC has a probe investigation against 42 South Yorkshire Police officers surrounding how they treated CSE in Rotherham.
The watchdog had 30 complaints and a total of 100 allegations.
Ashrid, Basharart and Bannaras Hussain, who were jailed for 35 years, 25 years and 19 years respectively in February 2016.
The siblings were jailed alongside their uncle Qurban Ali who was handed 10 years as well as Karen McGregor who was jailed for 13 years and Shelly Davies who was given an 18 month suspended sentence.
In November 2016, Sageer Hussain, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Waleed Ali, Masoued Malik, Asif Ali, Naeem Rafiq and Mohammed Whied were jailed for between five years and 19 years. Basharat Hussain was given another seven years added to his 25-year sentence.
In September a set of reports stated there are no charges made against senior figures at Rotherham Borough Council despite ‘various and substantial organisational failings’ that meant 1,400 victims were abused.
Operation Stovewood has identified 110 ‘designated suspects”‘after interviews with victims and survivors.
Five more men were jailed for the sexual exploitation of girls.
A major inquiry into the historic child sex abuse in Rotherham is set to continue for up to seven years with around 600 victims still to be spoken to. So far, 20 people have been convicted, five await trial and 135 are arrested.
In September, a report commissioned in the wake of the Rotherham Abuse Scandal was set to be released on 30 March 2022 after ‘at least’ 1,400 children were sexually exploited after another delay.