THE leader of Rotherham Council said justice had finally been served to eight convicted sexual abusers jailed for 96 years - but MP Sarah Champion said this was just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Cllr Chris Read, leader of RMBC, also sent out a message to groomers and abusers who may be committing crimes in the town, he said: “We don’t want you in our community, you are not welcome, we will track you down and you will be prosecuted.”
He added he hoped the sentences passed on Friday showed victims and survivors there were services in place now to help them and gave them confidence to report abuse.
Ian Thomas, RMBC director of children and young people’s services added: “Friday’s sentences and the 102 years handed out at the previous court case in February and recent convictions for current crimes of child sexual exploitation, shows we are serious about making sure we protect the most vulnerable in our community.
“We will not shy away from prosecutions, historic or current.”
Mr Thomas praised the victims in the recent case, adding: “They have shown remarkable bravery throughout this whole process and although this won’t take away what happened to them, I hope it helps them to move forward and start to rebuild their shattered lives.”
Ms Champion welcomed the result and said: “By coming forward, these brave women have been forced to relive the most horrific experiences and their courage has not only secured eight convictions but will hopefully encourage other survivors to speak out.”
She added that the convictions were the “tip of the iceberg” and the police needed more resources to be able to get all abusers off the streets and give support to survivors.
She added: “The fight isn’t over.
“We will not rest until every victim of child sexual exploitation has justice, and until these vile practices have been stamped out – both in Rotherham and across the UK.
“We have to focus on prevention as well as prosecutions.”
MP for Wentworth and Dearne, John Healey, said: “It is a signal from the courts, the police and other agencies that have worked to bring about these convictions that lessons have been learned since the Alexis Jay report exposed the extent of child sexual exploitation in the town.
“We must now build on this, continue to bring the perpetrators to justice and offer the best possible support to victims.”
Police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “This is a very good result for South Yorkshire Police and a clear sign that they are getting to grips with the scandal of grooming.
“It sends a signal across South Yorkshire to victims and witnesses that they will be believed, they will be listened to and they will get the care and protection they need while those who have wronged them are brought to court.”