In Brief

Rotherham abuse: outcry over anonymity for police officer

MP criticises watchdog report for failing to name ‘paid professionals who let down victims and survivors’

The MP for Rotherham says she finds it “difficult to believe” that anonymity has been granted to a police officer mentioned in a report on failings in the treatment of sex abuse victims in the town.

Sarah Champion also called on South Yorkshire Police to make “dramatic changes” following the release of the report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The watchdog looked at several complaints made by a Rotherham woman who was abused as a child for several years. Investigators found that a senior officer - who has not been identified - had told the victim’s father that “racial tensions” meant nothing could be done to address the abuse allegations, according to the BBC.

The unnamed officer allegedly said that the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani grooming gangs had been “going on” for 30 years, but that “with it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to be coming out”. 

The IOPC report, leaked to The Times, upheld the woman’s complaints, saying that “police took insufficient action to protect you from harm” and “police failed to adequately deal with offenders”.

South Yorkshire Police said on Saturday that it accepted the findings. The force “could not be contacted for comment” about Champion’s remarks, says the BBC.

The Labour MP says the inquiry is the latest in a series of investigations that showed “victims” and survivors were let down by paid professionals”.

A 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay found that at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. The attacks, which included rapes of girls as young as 11, beatings, and children being threatened with guns, were carried out by large groups of men, most of whom were reportedly of Pakistani heritage.

Commenting on the IOPC’s review, Champion said:  “Apparently now South Yorkshire Police don’t actually know who the officers were that repeatedly let down this survivor, which I find incredibly difficult to believe.

“I think what we as a town need to see, and definitely for the survivors to get closure, they need to see cases of misconduct. They need to see people held to account.”

That view was echoed by Sammy Woodhouse, who was abused as a teenager. She said: “How we were viewed, how we were treated, failed, ignored, blamed... unfortunately that’s not a thing of the past, it’s still happening today.

“We’ve started to now see perpetrators that have committed the rapes and the abuse being held to the account, but yet whenever when it comes to professionals I feel that we constantly hit a brick wall and I don’t think anybody will be ever held to account.”

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