In Brief

Rotherham authorities warned of sex abuse 12 years ago

Author of 2003 report cannot understand why nobody responded to multiple child rape claims

A report that warned authorities in Rotherham about child sexual exploitation in the town 12 years ago has been made public for the first time.

Dr Angie Heal, a former South Yorkshire Police drugs analyst, says she wrote one report in 2003 and another in 2006 warning about gangs grooming and abusing girls in the town – and even named suspected offenders – but no action was taken.

Last year, it was estimated that at least 1,400 children had been sexually abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, predominantly by gangs of British-Pakistani men.

A 2014 inquiry into the abuse acknowledged Heal's reports and said they had been distributed to senior officers at South Yorkshire Police, as well as the NHS, voluntary sector drug agencies and the Central Government office for the North East.

The reports have now been made public for the first time after a Freedom of Information request by local paper The Star.

Heal's 2003 report warned that a "significant" number of girls and some boys were being sexually exploited, with some young women subjected to violence, rape, gang rape and kidnap. A "significant" number of the girls had become pregnant and one young girl was doused in petrol as a threat against reporting the offences.

Another 13-year-old girl had reported being raped on four separate weekends by a number of men, but she and her family were threatened into dropping the charges.

Heal's 2006 report said that to a large extent "the perpetrators of the abuse are able to carry on with impunity". Instead, it was the victims who faced blame for their actions.

Heal told The Star: "I can't understand why anyone told about the multiple rape of children wouldn't respond effectively to that. There was a lack of common sense in applying basic policing practices and following the law in these cases.

"It was in the 'too hard to deal with' tray."

South Yorkshire Police said it had admitted to past failings in relation to child sexual exploitation and has accepted the need for a planned inquiry, ordered by South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Alan Billings in March. 

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