First Rotherham abuse prosecution since publication of Jay Report

File picture of Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Ross Parry
File picture of Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Ross Parry
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The convictions of the Hussain brothers and their associates is the first successful prosecution of a grooming gang in Rotherham since the child sexual exploitation scandal engulfed the town 18 months ago.

Rotherham became a byword for the exploitation of teenage girls and the failure of police and social workers to stop it happening with the publication of the Jay Report in August 2014.

Professor Alexis Jay said she had found ‘utterly appalling’ examples of ‘children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone’.

The report shocked the nation partly due to the scale of exploitation it described, finding that at least 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and groomed in the town over a 16-year period.

But its impact was so far reaching because it also laid bare the extend to which police and council officials failed to act on what they knew, and explicitly questioned whether this neglect was related to the perpetrators largely being adult men of a Pakistani heritage.

Now brothers Arshid and Basharat Hussain have been found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults of teenagers in Rotherham. A third brother, Bannaras Hussain, 36, admitted 10 charges including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the beginning of the trial.

Brothers Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, were cleared of all charges at Sheffield Crown Court.

Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davies, 40, were found guilty of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

Although the Jay Report resulted in the Rotherham exploitation becoming a national scandal, it was the previous major prosecution of a grooming gang in the town that kick-started the process.

In 2010, five men - Umar Razaq, Razwan Razaq, Zafran Ramzan, Adil Hussain, Mohsin Khan - were found guilty of a string of sex offences against girls aged between 12 and 16.

The case did not get nationwide coverage. But it was followed by a growing number of prosecutions of a similar nature around the UK, including in Derby, Oxford and Rochdale.

The Times reporter Andrew Norfolk exposed a pattern of mainly white teenage girls being groomed by gangs of adult men of a Pakistani heritage. When Mr Norfolk began to disclose in detail the stories of girls who had been exploited in Rotherham, it started a chain of events that led to Rotherham Council asking Professor Jay to look into what was happening.

Waves of criticism followed, aimed mainly at Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.

Resignations included the leader and chief executive of the council as well as its director of children’s services.

The most high-profile casualty was South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, who was the councillor in charge of Rotherham’s children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

A further review of Rotherham Council by the Government’s troubled families chief, Louise Casey, heaped more criticism on an authority she labelled as ‘not fit for purpose’ and ‘in denial’.

That led to the then communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles handing over its powers to a panel of appointed commissioners.

South Yorkshire Police says it now has a team of more than 60 officers working on child sexual exploitation. Its joint operation with the council and Crown Prosecution Service, called Operation Clover, has resulted in the current prosecution and others currently moving through the criminal justice system.

The National Crime Agency has also been brought in to investigate historical crimes and last year announced it was looking at 300 potential suspects.

The police and the NCA have said successful prosecutions are key to building trust with the survivors of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. But, also last year, David Greenwood, a lawyer who represents 58 women who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham between 1996 and 2012, said he was aware of fewer than 100 victims who had come forward.

Read more:

Verdicts in Rotherham abuse trial.

‘Don’t bury heads in the sand over abuse’ says Muslim commentator after Rotherham verdicts.