A researcher who tried to expose Rotherham’s child sexual exploitation problems has claimed she gave police the names of suspected abusers more than a decade ago – but the information was dismissed as ‘unhelpful’.
The Rotherham Council worker had been working on a Home Office funded project to investigate ways of stopping grooming gangs when she produced a 10-page dossier that she handed over to South Yorkshire Police in autumn 2001.
In written evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, the researcher said the document included details of ‘the persons who were suspected of being abusers, the vehicles that these people were using to transport young people and traffic them, links with locations and business in Rotherham and beyond, links with other people outside the area, and the young people that the perpetrators were believed to be involved with’.
She said the dossier also named one particular suspect who had made several underage girls pregnant.
But the researcher said she later received feedback from the police that the-then Rotherham district commander Christine Burbeary, who no longer works for the force, had found the dossier ‘unhelpful’.
The researcher added: “As far as I am aware there was no attempt to investigate or explore further any of the information.”
The researcher was also called to a meeting in June 2002 where she claims she was asked to make changes to some of data by a council official.
She said she was told not to discuss the matter with the Home Office and raised her ‘deep reservations’ about making such changes.
She filed a formal grievance against the council and she left the authority soon after.
The researcher said: “During my final months at Rotherham Council I was subjected to intense personal hostility and intimidation, not just from Rotherham Council, but also South Yorkshire Police.
“I was placed under pressure to change and present my findings in a way that presented services in Rotherham in a better light and diluted the findings of the pilot.
“Whatever the belief and the reasons behind the actions of those managers at the time, action should have been taken to investigate the concerns that were being raised.
“I find it personally and professionally a tragedy that Rotherham Council did not avail itself of the opportunity it had to explore the information, and evidence that I was providing to senior managers in key services in Rotherham in 2002.
“Professor Jay’s report shows what the consequences of that has been for the children of Rotherham.”