Shine A Light

Child rape in Rotherham: Questions rape survivors, parents and the public want answered

South Yorkshire police officers and council officers have been called before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee today to explain their failure to act to prevent shocking abuse and exploitation of thousands of children. Women Against Rape has supplied the MPs with some guidance and ammunition.

Women Against Rape
9 September 2014
ROTHERHAM HASC.jpg

A report by Prof Alexis Jay exposed shocking abuse and exploitation of at least 1,400 children as young as 11 in Rotherham over 16 years. Jay describes 'blatant' collective failures of the care system, police and local politicians. Women Against Rape, campaigning since 1976, contend that Jay’s report raises more questions than it answers, and unless these questions are asked and answered now, this will amount to a further cover up.

Background: Refusal to Investigate and Prosecute

The Jay Report says that more than 1,400 girls suffered multiple crimes including: rape, child abduction, threats with guns, being given Class A drugs and alcohol, witness intimidation such as serious injury to themselves and other members of their families. This has been known by council social services and police since at least 2004, perhaps even since the late 1990s.

The Report says:

“At an operational level, the police gave no priority to Child Sexual Exploitation, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime. Further stark evidence came in 2002, 2003 and 2006 with three reports known to the police and the council, which could not have been clearer in their description of the situation in Rotherham. The first of these reports was effectively suppressed because some senior officers disbelieved the data it contained. This had led to suggestions of cover-up. The other two reports set out the links between child sexual exploitation and drugs, guns and criminality in the borough. These reports were ignored and no action was taken to deal with the issues that were identified in them.”

The Report says no councillors or police in the area can say they didn’t know what was going on, following explicit reports by Risky Business (a youth organisation) to council meetings in 2004 and 2005 naming 50 perpetrators, including names of taxi firms, individual taxi drivers, and takeaways, and addresses where rape took place, yet no concerted action followed for years. Some interviewees told the Report writer they suspected family or business connections with taxi firms, takeaways and hotels where the girls were raped (as Risky Business explicitly named in their reports to Council meetings in 2004 and 2005), but police said there was no evidence of this.

The Report says the Director of Education 2001-2005 raised concerns with police three times, after the heads of three schools had told her of girls being picked up at the school gates by taxi drivers for abuse:

“Police watched the schools in unmarked cars but the problem persisted.”

“… she described how she was shown a map of the north of England overlaid with various crime networks including ‘Drugs’, ‘Guns’, and ‘Murder’.

She was told that the Police were only interested in putting resources into catching ‘the ring leaders’ who perpetrated these crimes”. . . “if they were caught, her local problems would cease.”  (pp 103-4)

 

“The Police reason for removing several girls from monitoring was they were pregnant or had given birth. All looked after children were removed from the list.” Risky Business challenged this decision.  (pp 104-5 pt 13.19)

“…Between 2007-2013, the Police undertook a series of operations, jointly coordinated and designed to investigate cases of suspected child sexual exploitation, although only one resulted in prosecution and convictions … It ended in 2010 with 5 convictions.” p 4

 

“…Operation Chard in 2011 led to abduction notices and 11 arrests but no convictions.”

Child S, aged 17, was murdered – police dismissed it as an unconnected ‘honour killing’ by her boyfriend jealous of her having sex with other men. He was convicted. Her sister had been in care and was known to have been groomed.

Prostitution has been used as an excuse to “blame” these rape victims as involved in “prostitution”, “a lifestyle choice”, being “not blameless”, “undeserving”.

Many of these girls were well under 14 when the attacks started, they were victims of statutory rape, whatever the circumstances. Many reported to the police or social services or schools and sought help. Not only were they denied protection, they were themselves criminalised. Not only trashed by the authorities who are paid to protect them but arrested and charged. So were loved ones – mothers, fathers, brothers … – who tried to get the rapes to stop.

Race and ethnicity were used as an excuse to justify the lack of action against the perpetrators. This presumes that the Pakistani community would stand with rapists rather than victims, which is a blatant piece of racism on the part of the police, the council, the MPs and social services. The Asian community was outraged at the perpetrators and the police and politicians protection of the perpetrators.

The gang rape of children was not investigated and victims were dismissed and even criminalised. This amounts to aiding and abetting rape and all the other violent crimes exposed in this report, which are going on not only in S Yorkshire but all over the UK. What were they doing instead of investigating and arresting the perpetrators of these crimes?

South Yorkshire is the same police force found to have been acting illegally at Orgreave during the miners strike (1984-5) and Hillsborough. What is the connection between their illegality then going unpunished and their illegality now?

Questions rape survivors and the public want answerered

Given the circumstances described in this report and what has come out from previous reports, it beggars belief that there has been no examination of possible connections, financial or otherwise, between the perpetrators and the police, politicians and social workers who covered for them. Not only all the officers, starting at the top, but all the local councillors and MPs and the Home Office must be questioned, and charges brought against those who shielded, enabled, encouraged, organised, profited from or got promoted as a result of this violence against children and their families.

1.    Sex with a child under 14 is statutory rape. 
Why are officers who claimed 12-year-old girls were compliant and consenting to sex with adult men still in the police force? Do they not know what a crime is? Do they not know the difference between the rape of children and sex between consenting adults? Why is the public paying police as law enforcers when they either don’t know what a crime is, even when explained to them in detail, or don’t care?

2.    Police aided and abetted the widespread rape of children. This is a crime. Why are have they not been arrested and prosecuted for this?

3.    What other illegality are they engaged in or protecting?

4.    How was rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and other child abuse dealt with while this was going on? How many rapes were no crimed? How many victims were pressured into withdrawing or retracting their allegations? How many were even prosecuted for reporting rape on the pretext that they were lying?

5.    What are they doing instead of protecting the public from rape, child abuse and murder?

6.    Jay’s report says police disbelieved the first report as exaggerated: Were police asked why they disbelieved it? Were they asked to look into it anyway? Did they disbelieve it or did they say they disbelieved it in order to ignore it?

7.    Why were police on the side of the criminals rather than their victims? Is it just prejudice against children, especially those in care? Or did they have something to gain?  
What is the relationship between the officers and these criminals? What did the police have to gain by not arresting them? Were officers paid or afforded favours to keep quiet about this? Were officers who allowed these rapes to continue promoted? How many?

8.    The report refers to rumours that some councilors are related to some of the perpetrators. That is easy to establish. Which ones?

9.    What is the connection of the officers, both those in charge or those on the ground, with the perpetrators? Was money passing hands?

10.  What is the connection between councillors and perpetrators? Was money passing hands?  

11.  Some perpetrators were given cautions – meaning they admitted their crimes.Whose decision was it to give perpetrators a caution?

12.  Why have they not been rearrested for subsequent crimes and given a more appropriate punishment? Are the police claiming they have not done anything criminal since they were cautioned?

13.  Which of the so called ‘ring leaders’ have since been prosecuted and for what?

14.  Are those not deemed to be ‘ring leaders’ allowed to carry on with impunity or will they be prosecuted as well?

15.  Who allowed police and children’s services to dramatically reduce the number of girls being monitored, and why was nobody challenged about the tiny numbers of girls being identified as at risk of sexual exploitation?

16.  Have the ‘senior investigating police’ been asked to justify their ‘adamant’ refusal to link the alleged ‘honour killing’ of Child S with what they considered ‘totally unrelated .... other local violence against girls’? Who were the men she was said to have had sex with? Were they connected to the grooming of her sister or any of the other girls?

17.  Why didn’t Risky Business go public and alert the Home Office or a government body or go to the media to blow the racket open?

18.  Victims were themselves charged and prosecuted. Loved ones who tried to protect them were dismissed and even arrested. 
Who are the officers who arrested the girls and their loved ones instead of their perpetrators? Will they be arrested and prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?

19.  Police provided no protection for the girls who came forward. Even worse they seem to have told the perpetrators. 
Which police officers leaked to a perpetrator that one girl was about to make a statement about him having broken her brother’s legs? How else would he know that his victim was at that moment in the police station? 
This information enabled him to text her that he had abducted her 11 year old sister in order to intimidate her into not reporting. Why wasn’t he prosecuted for intimidating a witness – a serious crime?

20.  The presumption is that the Asian community would stand with rapists against their victims, which is a blatant piece of racismAsian women’s organisations have said that Asian girls were also victims. How many? Did any come forward and were they treated any better than the white victims? Is this being investigated now?

21.  The presumption that criminals who are Asian are immune is not credible. How many Asian men were stopped and searched, much of it illegally, over this period?

22.  How much are senior officers determining the priorities of their juniors and monitoring what was being done?

23.  Were any police whistleblowers punished or sacked for objecting to this cover up of illegality?

24.  Why didn’t the police know the difference between rape, including statutory rape, which is a crime, and prostitution which is not? How widespread is this gross ignorance among police forces?

Crown Prosecution Service

25.  The Report says that the employees of the CPS dealing with CSE before 2010 have now retired. Why should this prevent an investigation? Will they be arrested and questioned?

26.    Why are prosecutors who protect criminals allowed to retire on a pension instead of a jail sentence? Will the connection between CPS and perpetrators, direct or indirect, be scrutinised now?

27.    CPS closed many of the cases because ‘they used rape myths against the victims’. What is being done about this now? Will these cases be re-opened?

28.   Why did it take nine months in one case for the CPS to make a decision to take no further action against one of the perpetrators? Will this case be re-opened now?

Police and Crime Commissioner

29. He was aware of the scale of rape and other crime from at least 2005 as the Lead Member for Children and Young People (2005-2010). Why is South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright allowed to stay in post?  Why isn’t he being investigated for criminal activities?

Rotherham council – a racket/mafia?

The Report says no councillors or police in the area can say they didn’t know what was going on. Risky Business reported on suspected family or business connections between politicians and perpetrators. 

30. Did the police investigate these allegations? Is this being investigated now?

31. Why were no minutes kept in 2005, when the present council leader [Roger Stone] chaired a group to ‘take forward’ the above issues raised by Risky Business? Is there no legal requirement to keep minutes of council meetings? Is he being investigated now?

31. Council Leader in 2006 Roger Stone told a Tory councillor not to publicly raise concerns raised by his constituents about child exploitation, and that they were being dealt with by police. He has now resigned. Will his pension be withdrawn? Will he be investigated? 

Social Services

33. How can care workers not intervene and stop this mass rape? Isn’t the public paying them to care? Why didn’t they blow the whistle, for example say publicly that the refusal of police to prosecute sexual abuse of girls in their care is making their job impossible?

34. Why are social workers now not demanding the prosecution of the rapists and the professionals who covered for them?

35. Why is social services punitively removing babies from young vulnerable women rather than offering them the support and resources they need to care for their children?

Home Office

36. Why, when the Home Office was informed, did no one take any action?

Children’s Charities

There are many big children’s charities in England: ChildLine, Barnardo’s, Save the Children, Children’s Society, National Children’s Bureau, Children in Need 

37. Did they know? If not, why not? If yes, what did they do? If they didn’t do anything, why not?

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