Child sex abuse "still a problem" but Rotherham approach "unrecognisable" from past failings

POLICE and council chiefs have admitted child sexual exploitation “continues to be a problem” in the wake of a report into the issue.

The final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, led by Prof Alexis Jay, found “victims were frequently blamed as being responsible for their own sexual abuse”, that child sexual abuse is a “global crisis and not just a national issue” and that “there is still not enough support available to both child and adult victims and survivors”.

Prof Jay headed the first independent probe into CSE, leading to the document known as the Jay Report, which found an estimated 1,400 victims had been sexually abused in the borough between 1997 and 2003.

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The findings led MP Sarah Champion to call for more support for survivors and a "joined-up" approach to tackling abuse.

In response to the report, which was published last month, South Yorkshire’s Deputy chief cons Tim Forber said: “As the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found, child sexual exploitation continues to be a serious problem across the country.

“Those who bravely spoke out about the harm they suffered in Rotherham became a catalyst for change and as a result we have developed a far deeper and more meaningful understanding of child sexual exploitation here in South Yorkshire.

“Since the Alexis Jay Report in 2014, we have worked closely with experts to develop effective and robust systems.

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“We have dedicated multi-agency teams in Rotherham working closely to share intelligence on suspects and to identify children who may be at risk.

“We take action at the earliest opportunity, to prevent harm wherever possible.

“Where harm does occur, we work compassionately and with utmost professionalism to stop that harm, to seek justice and to ensure those affected are properly safeguarded.

“There will, sadly, always be people who want to cause harm to children but our commitment remains firm.”

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Rotherham Council said it had sympathy for the way victims and survivors share their experiences and detailed how it had improved since the Jay report in 2014.

Suzanne Joyner, strategic director of children and young people’s services at Rotherham Council, said: “We pay tribute to the bravery of the victims and survivors who shared their harrowing experiences with the inquiry.

“The high-profile failings by local agencies here in the past means there is always, quite rightly, additional scrutiny on how effectively local services are safeguarding children in Rotherham today.

“Earlier this year, a detailed independent review of our approach to CSE found local partners are working effectively to keep children safe with many areas of best practice.

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“We have comprehensive support services for victims and survivors of CSE and we continue to support Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency's investigation into allegations of abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

“During the Inspection of Local Authority Children's Services in June 2022 by OFSTED, our services were found to be good and highlighted how ‘the Evolve team works proactively with children to reduce risks associated with sexual and criminal exploitation’.

“There will always, sadly, be people who want to hurt and abuse children.

“Our approach to safeguarding children in Rotherham is unrecognisable from what it was when the Jay Report was published in 2014.”



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