Police turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual abuse of white girls by gangs of largely Pakistani men for more than a decade, it was claimed yesterday.
Research, reports and case files also revealed that council officials were desperate to cover up any racial link to the abuse of young girls.
The research shows that a string of warnings dating back as far as 2000 were ignored by the authorities. In many cases, police action was taken only against the victims.
- A 14-year-old girl being forced to perform sex acts on five men – four Pakistanis and an Iraqi Kurd asylum seeker;
- A British Pakistani man was found in a car with a bottle of vodka and a 12-year-old. Both were arrested on suspicion of stealing the car. Police also found pornographic images of the girl on the 22-year-old’s phone;
- A 14-year-old girl missing for a week was found under the influence of drugs in a car with a man 20 years older. They had had sex but he was arrested only for drug possession;
- A 13-year-old girl was found drunk at 3am in a derelict house with a ‘large group of adult males’ who had plied her with vodka. She was arrested for a public order offence while the men walked away.
Documents: South Yorkshire Police headquarters in Sheffield. Details of the problem of sexual exploitation are revealed in internal reports prepared by the force
According to previously confidential documents seen by The Times, police in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, found evidence of thousands of similar crimes and described ‘networks of Asian males exploiting young white females’.
The groups were reported to have trafficked victims to cities including Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.
Despite this, just two prosecutions of groups of men for sexual abuse have taken place in South Yorkshire since 1996.
The revelations about sexual exploitation in Rotherham echo the activities of a street-grooming gang which preyed on dozens of young girls in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
An 11-week trial heard that the men would target vulnerable teenage girls and pass them around for sex.
If the girls did not submit, they were plied with cheap vodka and raped.
It emerged during the trial that police and social services had missed opportunities to stop the abuse.
Ahmed, pictured above, was jailed for 19 years for his role in the street-grooming ring.
In August he was given a separate 22-year prison term, to run concurrently with the first, after he was convicted of raping another child in his community.
Earlier this month, Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board announced that a serious case review into the exploitation would be held.
The board’s chairman Lynne Jones told the BBC that the review would look at the experiences of four young people and how agencies responded to their needs.
The review would focus on what help was available to the girls in the early stages of their ordeal and how reports of concern about the victims were handled.
In 2002, Home Office-funded research criticised officers for treating young victims as ‘deviant and promiscuous’ while ‘the men they were found with were never questioned or investigated’.
Revealing the fears over the racial element to the abuse, a 2010 report from the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board said the crimes had ‘cultural characteristics … which are locally sensitive in terms of diversity’, but warned of ‘sensitivities of ethnicity with potential to endanger the harmony of community relationships’.
Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, said: ‘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.’
The revelations come only three months after it emerged that social services in Rotherham had known for six years that a teenage mother, murdered for bringing shame on the families of two men who had used her for sex, was at clear risk from predatory gangs.
Laura Wilson, 17, had been groomed by a string of men before she was stabbed and thrown into a canal to die for informing her abusers’ families of the sexual relationships.
Her killer Ashtiaq Asghar, who was 18 at the time, was given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 17-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to murdering Laura in October 2010.
But it emerged in June that Rotherham Council’s social services were well aware she was at risk and had received information about certain adults suspected of targeting her from the age of 11.
- Rotherham is named as centre of Asian teenage sex abuse (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Police Covered Up Muslim Sex Slavery (thenmnetwork.wordpress.com)
- Police deny hiding teen sex abuse (bbc.co.uk)