Police files reveal vast child protection scandalSource: The Times (£)
By Andrew Norfolk
Confidential police reports and intelligence files that reveal a hidden truth about the sale and extensive use of English children for sex are exposed today.
They show that for more than a decade organised groups of men were able to groom, pimp and traffic girls across the country with virtual impunity. Offenders were identified to police but not prosecuted.
A child welfare expert, speaking under condition of anonymity, said that agencies’ reluctance to tackle such street-grooming networks was “the biggest child protection scandal of our time”.
The Times has published several articles about a pattern of crimes across northern England and the Midlands involving groups of men, largely of Pakistani heritage, and the sexual abuse of white girls aged from 12 to 16.
We can now reveal evidence from more than 200 restricted-access documents, which show that, in one area, police and child protection agencies have held extensive knowledge of this crime model for ten years, yet have never publicly acknowledged its existence.
The internal police and social services correspondence, research papers, intelligence reports and case files are a detailed history of alleged child sexual exploitation in South Yorkshire since 2000, focusing on Rotherham. They include a confidential 2010 report by the police intelligence bureau warning that thousands of such crimes were committed in the county each year.
It contains explosive details about the men responsible for the most serious, co-ordinated abuse. “Possibly the most shocking threat is the existence of substantial and organised offender networks that groom and exploit victims on a worrying scale,” the report says. “Practitioners throughout the force state there is a problem with networks of Asian offenders both locally and nationally. This was particularly stressed in Sheffield and even more so in Rotherham, where there appears to be a significant problem with networks of Asian males exploiting young white females.” Such groups are said to have trafficked South Yorkshire child victims “to many other cities, including Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Dover”.
Another confidential 2010 report. for the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board, noted that such crimes had “cultural characteristics . . . which are locally sensitive in terms of diversity”.
It said: “There are sensitivities of ethnicity with potential to endanger the harmony of community relationships. Great care will be taken in drafting . . . this report to ensure that its findings embrace Rotherham’s qualities of diversity. It is imperative that suggestions of a wider cultural phenomenon are avoided.”
Alleged crimes for which no one was prosecuted include:
Fifty-four Rotherham children were linked to sexual exploitation by three brothers from one British Pakistani family, 18 identifying one brother as their “boyfriend” and several allegedly made pregnant by him;
A 14-year-old girl from a loving, supportive family was allegedly held in a flat and forced to perform sex acts on five men, four of them Pakistani, plus a 32-year-old Iraqi Kurd asylum seeker. She gave a filmed police interview and identified her abusers;
One girl, 15, spent days in hospital after a broken bottle was allegedly forced inside her by two young British Pakistani men in a park, causing her to bleed extensively;
A 13-year-old girl was found at 3am with disrupted clothing in a house with a large group of Asian men who had fed her vodka. A neighbour reported the girl’s screams.
Police arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly but did not question the men;
A specialist project’s intelligence report for police identified 61 girls — 59 white, two Asian — linked to sexual exploitation by three brothers from another British Pakistani family. It named 41 associates of the brothers who allegedly used girls for sex.
The confidential documents revealed today suggest a failure by police and social services to protect teenagers and bring charges against their abusers, even when agencies held detailed intelligence about the men and their victims.
They also reveal that one young white girl, known by social services to have been sexually abused by Asian men from the age of 12, was offered language lessons in Urdu and Punjabi by Rotherham council. The aim was “to engage” her in education.
Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, said he was appalled that in several meetings with senior South Yorkshire police officers to discuss internal trafficking, “no one has ever revealed or even hinted at the important allegations made by The Times”.
He added: “There’s a culture here of denial and cover-up and a refusal to accept the reality that we have men living in the Rotherham community who treat young girls as objects for their sexual pleasure. It’s time to tell the truth. We must root out this evil.”
In 2002, the confidential report of a Home Office-funded research project considered a series of Rotherham case studies. It criticised police for “in all cases” treating young victims “as deviant and promiscuous” while “the men they were found with were never questioned or investigated”.
There have only been two group prosecutions in South Yorkshire since 1996, when concerns were first raised about grooming networks. Several Iraqi Kurds were charged in Sheffield in 2007 and eight British Pakistanis went on trial in Rotherham in 2010.
Throughout this period, Rotherham council has failed to accept the role of ethnicity and culture in such group offending. Earlier this year, this newspaper revealed how the town’s safeguarding children board censored a report into the murder of a 17-year-old girl to conceal the ethnicity of the British Pakistani men suspected of using her for sex from the age of 11.