A victim of Rotherham’s child sexual exploitation scandal says she was ‘let down’ for years by police and social services.
As Rotherham Council’s director of children’s services Joyce Thacker finally left her post last night ‘by mutual consent’, victim Holly Archer, now 17, and her mother, Joanne Turner, spoke out to say they first raised concerns with the authorities in 2010.
In one incident Holly – who has waived her legal right to anonymity to tell her story – says she was dropped off at a pub by her foster carer when she was just 14 to meet a man who was 23 at the time.
Police removed her from the location but did not arrest the man, instead serving him with an abduction notice warning him not to go near Holly again.
Holly is currently battling to stop her baby son from being put up for adoption against her will.
‘I want my baby son back’ - victim’s plea to authorities
Child sexual exploitation victim Holly Archer has been forced to grow up all too quickly.
And the abuse she suffered while in ‘care’ in Rotherham already feels like a very long time ago.
But the teenager says the past she endured, through no fault of her own, is still taking its toll - after social services took her beloved baby son into care and put him up for adoption against her will.
And Holly says it is her years spent in care that are being used as the basis of the decision, rather than anything to do with her care of her son.
“That is really all social services went on, because they didn’t have evidence
of anything else,” she told The Star.
“They went on my past to say that I’m still that person.”
Holly gave birth to her little boy when she was 16, after getting pregnant through a consensual relationship with a boy who is nothing to do with the sexual exploitation scandal. But the baby was taken into care on Christmas Eve, one day after Holly’s 17th birthday, and she has now been told he will be put up for adoption - because of her ‘traumatic upbringing’.
The Jay Report last month revealed Holly is not alone. Several girls who were victims of abuse in Rotherham went on to have babies who were later taken from them and placed into care.
Holly says she feels she is a capable mother, and has not been given a proper chance to show she can look after her son, who was taken away from her when he was just 17 days old. The judgement on their case said ‘the parents, by common agreement, love their child dearly’, but still ruled he would be best being adopted by new parents.
Holly is currently allowed to see her son once a fortnight, but that will be stopped once he is adopted - although she will be able to contact him once a year at the discretion of his new adoptive parents.
She said: “I was there from the day he was born to the day he went.
“They say he is at risk of emotional abuse from me, but they are emotionally abusing him now. I did everything I was supposed to.
“The judge said he had a lot of sympathy for me because he could see I loved him and was devoted to him.”
Among the bombshell revelations in the Jay Report were several cases where abuse victims had suffered the ‘further trauma’ of having babies removed and contact with their children stopped.
Jane Parfrement, Safeguarding Children and Families Director for Rotherham Council, said of Holly and her son: “We cannot comment on individual adoption cases.
“However, the decision to place children for adoption is not one taken lightly. Such decisions are made by the family court. Children’s services of the local authority are only one of several parties involved.
“During such proceedings each parent has the right to their own legal representation and a guardian is appointed by the court to independently advise on what is in the child’s best interests.
“Until a final adoption order is made, parents have opportunities at various stages of the process to make their views known to the courts through their legal representatives, and the court is required by law to give them full and proper consideration.”