Home Office worker investigating Rotherham child abuse 'had data stolen'
Local council took data from office, accused me of insensitivity and tried to sack me, researcher claims on Panorama
Martin Williams The Guardian, Monday 1 September 2014
A Home Office official who investigated the sexual exploitation of children in Rotherham accused the council of being involved in the unauthorised removal of information from her office.
Her report in 2002 suggested there were then more than 270 victims of the scandal, which was finally exposed last week with revelations that at least 1,400 children were abused from 1997 to 2013.
She told Panorama that she had sent her report to both the council and the Home Office on a Friday, but when she returned on Monday she found her office had been raided.
"They'd gained access to the office and taken my data, so out of the number of filing cabinets, there was one drawer emptied and it was emptied of my data. It had to be an employee of the council," she said....
The Home Office researcher said that at one point the council tried to get her sacked and the report was never published.
A draft of the report severely criticised agencies working to tackle the child exploitation in the area, including "alleged indifference towards, and ignorance of, child sexual exploitation on the part of senior managers".
It said: "Responsibility was continuously placed on young people's shoulders rather than with the suspected abusers."
She met the victims at a youth organisation called Risky Business. "The workers in that project were the only people that those young people trusted, that they were telling the complete story to," she said.
"And some of the stories that I heard very early on were just so graphic that I don't think I will ever forget them.
"I was subjected to the most intense personal hostility – there were threats made from a range of sources. I've never seen back-covering like it and I still feel extremely angry about that."
Rotherham council and South Yorkshire police have both apologised for the abuse, but refused to be interviewed by Panorama.
Panorama identified one perpetrator who is still free, following a series of police failures to arrest him for exploitation. The man had 18 underage "girlfriends"....
Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote last week's independent report on the abuse in Rotherham, said people had been "punished for speaking truth to power"....
Rotherham child abuse scandal: New victims come forward 2 September 2014
Twelve new victims have made allegations of child sexual abuse in Rotherham since a report found at least 1,400 children were abused, police say....
A report last week said hundreds of children were abused from 1997 to 2013.
Mr Crompton, who earlier announced he had commissioned an independent inquiry into South Yorkshire Police's handling of the scandal, was giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee.
Mr Crompton said he now had 62 officers dedicated to dealing with child sex abuse, compared with three in 2010 and eight in 2012.
He told the committee 104 convictions had been secured since the start of 2013, while 40 more suspects were on bail.
South Yorkshire Police is conducting nine "multiple victim, multiple offender" investigations, including two in Rotherham, he said.
However, he was unable to give direct answers about specific failures highlighted in Professor Alexis Jay's report, including why an 11-year-old victim was arrested and why an officer described the rape of a 12-year-old girl by several men as "entirely consensual"....