THE scale of child sex abuse in Rotherham may have been underestimated in the report which lifted the lid on the scandal, it was claimed today.
The National Crime Agency said Prof Alexis Jay’s estimate that 1,400 children from the town had been groomed and sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013 may fall short of the real total.
As part of the latest update on Operation Stovewood, its investigation into allegations of abuse over the 16-year period, the NCA said “our analysis puts the potential number of victims and survivors at 1,510”.
Senior investigating officer, Paul Williamson, said of the 1,510 victims and survivors 1,300 were female and more than 140 were male.
The NCA said the majority of victims were aged between 11 and 18 and 90 per cent of the victims were white females.
He added: “We do have examples of Pakistani heritage victims as well, but it’s unclear what proportion that will be.”
The NCA said it was uncovering trends in the methods of abuse used by the alleged attackers — including the use of drugs and alcohol to win over victims, convincing victims they were in a relationship and group attacks by multiple offenders.
Of the 1,500-plus potential victims identified by the NCA team, 260 have so far engaged with the inquiry, while 110 suspects - of which 80 per cent were of Pakistani heritage - have been identified and 18 charged.
The team of 144 officers were also pursuing 19,000 lines of enquiry and there were 34 ongoing investigations, Mr Williamson said.
Four people have been convicted in relation to the £6.9 million Operation Stovewood, the latest being former taxi driver Asghar Bostan, who was jailed two weeks ago for nine years for two counts of rape.
Six NCA crown court trials are due to take place this year.
Mr Williamson said the NCA was working with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Borough Council and the NHS to rebuild victims' confidence in Rotherham public sector agencies, adding: “My aim is to make Rotherham a hostile environment for anybody that has committed CSE, and that work goes on after 2013 with South Yorkshire Police."
The Home Office is funding 85 per cent of the operation and the rest is funded by South Yorkshire Police.
Prof Jay (pictured above) said in her 2014 report that an estimated 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, mostly by men of Pakistani backgrounds.