A full Rotherham Council meeting was scheduled today, amidst the Rotherham Conservatives damning report which stated Child Sexual Exploitation is a ‘continuing problem.’
The Rotherham Conservative Party demanded a motion on ‘Ongoing Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham’, after they published a report which urged the Council to acknowledge ‘the true scale of CSE’ in Rotherham.
The report revealed a working group of Conservative councillors have uncovered ‘multiple examples of active grooming and CSE in multiple locations across Rotherham.’
What did the report reveal?
Within the report, the working group accused the council of ‘deliberately avoiding talking about CSE’ and felt the ‘CSE is not taken seriously’ within the council.
The group uncovered several examples of grooming in Rawmarsh, Wath, Greasbrough, Eastwood and Clifton.
Locations included several public parks, allotments, car parks, private homes, fast food shops, a car wash, and a petrol station.
The report claimed teenage girls were given phones by older Asian men and were picked up from a specific location at late night.
It has also been alleged that there are reports of ‘girls being sold for sex’ from a petrol station and a takeaway shop.
Advocates who work with children have told the working group, after the tightening up of taxi licensing in Rotherham, perpetrators have moved to private vehicles, even-though taxis are still being used for exploitation.
The Conservatives report also claimed CSE is an ‘open secret’ within the community and the working group were told there were reported suspicions of CSE, which were dismissed by the Council and South Yorkshire Police.
The working group also alleged that scrutiny committees had ‘deliberately avoided CSE’ and claimed it was a ‘dangerous omission’ with no visible processes to ensure issues surrounding grooming, safeguarding and CSE were effectively managed.
The report also condemned the force’s response, which stated it was ‘lacking’ and the working group could not ‘identify any action taken by the police.’
The Conservative party raised its concerns over how police officers ‘do not want to hear about CSE’ and felt internal process, accountability and the chain of command was not adequate to ensure reports are properly responded to.
The Leader of the Conservative group stated the Chief Superintendent did care about CSE but, alleged the South Yorkshire Police are not ‘effective’ or ‘adequate’ enough.
What did Child Sexual Exploitation survivors say?
Adult CSE survivors told the working group, as a child they felt ‘ignored’ by the council and police, as felt as though they were treated as ‘criminals’ and ‘bad people’ instead of victims.
Within the report one survivor, said: “They ignored our abuse but fed us to the lions while perpetrators ran free, and this is still happening.”
Survivors also stated Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police never apologised for their failures and explained the time they waited to receive compensation was ‘lengthy’ and ‘difficult.’
The work group were told by survivors the council commission support services were ‘limited’ and said challenges they faced as adults due to abuse were ‘not fully appreciated.’
Social services were also condemned by survivors as they said the services ‘let them down’ when they were children, and many felt they were not supported as adults.
CSE survivors told the working group they felt Rotherham Borough Council and South Yorkshire Police should address current CSE and support survivors by ‘leading the country in terms of work to tackle and prevent CSE.’
What has the Rotherham Conservative Group demanded?
The working group are now urging the Council to act, as they feared CSE is occurring at the same scale, due to under-reporting and reactive policies.
The report stated the Council needs to deliver proper training to Council staff and Council contractors who are in regular contact with members of the public or who work within the community.
Another demand from the group was for the council to launch a comprehensive public information campaign, so the community can recognise CSE.
The working group urged for improved internal procedures for handling reports and intelligence which may indicate CSE.
The Rotherham Conservative Party also lobbied the council to take a proactive approach to CSE, by identifying and supporting children at risk and those who may be perpetrators.
The report also highlighted the council should proactively target known CSE hotspots, including hotels and parks whilst also targeting gangs involved in Child Criminal Exploitation.
The working group suggested an ‘exist strategy’ to support children and a continually review of this strategy to ensure it is effective.
Within the findings, the group stated a review of the council’s whistleblowing policy and give better protection for people who are whistleblowing.
The group demanded the council and South Yorkshire Police work on CSE to ensure it is properly scrutinised, including regular reviews of scrutiny arrangements.
The Conservatives suggested the council issue an apology to survivors after their alleged failing which extended their abuse.
The report demanded how the council needs to improve support for survivors of CSE.
The working group urged the council to put pressure on South Yorkshire Police to recognise CSE as a major problem in Rotherham and across South Yorkshire as a whole.